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and  Freedom  J 

In  the  Age  of  Modern  Science 
Edited  by  Sidney  Hook 

William  Barrett,  iVIax  Black,  Brand  Blanshard, 
Ernest  Nagel,  F.  S.  C.  Morthrop  and  many  others 

Is  man  responsible  for  his 

actions?  Does  present 

scientific  knowledge  modify 

concepts  of  law  and  chance? 


>*> .;  ^ 




Digitized  by  the  Internet  Archive 

in  2010  with  funding  from 

Lyrasis  IVIembers  and  Sloan  Foundation 

Determinism   and   Freedom   in   the 
Age  of  Modern   Science 

SIDNEY     HOOK,     Editor 




//,■     : 


This  Collier  Books  edition  is  published  by  arrangement  with  New 
York  University  Press. 

Collier  Books  is  a  division  of  The  Crowell-Collier   Publishing 

First  Collier  Books  Edition  1961 

©  1958  by  New  York  University 

Hecho  en  Ids  E.E.U.U. 

Printed  in  the  United  States  of  America 

The  contents  of  this  volume  comprise  the  Proceedings 
of  the  first  annual  New  York  University  Institute  of 
Philosophy,  held  at  Washington  Square,  New  York, 
February  9  and  10,  1957. 


The  new  york  University  Institute  of  Philosophy  is  an  experi- 
ment designed  to  further  fruitful  discussion  in  philosophy. 
The  annual  regional  meetings  of  the  American  Philosophical 
Association  perform  an  excellent  and  indispensable  profes- 
sional function.  But  because  of  the  large  number  of  persons 
involved,  the  broad  scope  of  the  programs,  and  the  adherence 
to  fixed  time  schedules — natural  limitations  of  all  gatherings 
of  this  kind — it  seems  desirable  to  multiply  opportunities  for 
free  and  sustained  interchange  of  views.  Toward  this  end  we 
therefore  resolved  to  try  something  new:  to  select  one  philo- 
sophical topic  or  theme  for  intensive  discussion  by  a  small 
group  of  philosophers  and  other  scholars  and  thinkers  deeply 
concerned  with  it,  and  willing  to  explore  it  together  around 
a  long  seminar  table.  We  hope  our  action  will  inspire  similar 
efforts  in  other  regions  of  the  country. 

Our  great  problem  was  to  keep  the  number  of  participants 
within  reasonable  compass  without  making  invidious  distinc- 
tions. No  inference  is  to  be  made  as  to  a  philosopher's  emi- 
nence or  professional  qualification  to  analyze  the  theme  under 
discussion  on  the  basis  of  his  absence  from  this  Institute.  For 
obvious  reasons  geographical  considerations  played  a  large 
role.  Nonetheless  we  hope  to  establish  a  revolving  member- 
ship for  our  Institute  so  that  before  long  all  philosophers  with 
a  strong  interest  in  the  themes  under  discussion  and  within 
easy  traveling  distance  from  New  York  City  will  on  one  or 
another  occasion  join  us  as  participants  in  the  Institute. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  choice  of  a  theme  for  our  first  Insti- 
tute was  not  very  much  a  problem.  "Determinism  and  Free- 
dom" is  not  only  a  perennial  philosophical  issue  but  seems 
today  to  be  moving  once  more  into  the  forefront  of  intellec- 
tual concern.  For  example,  almost  contemporary  with  our 
Proceedings,  the  January  1957  issue  of  Mind  contains  two 
long  articles  on  the  subject,  and  the  issue  before  that  includes 
a  piece  in  which  it  is  argued  that  the  entire  notion  of  "moral 
responsibility"  is  moribund  and  should  be  extruded  from 
vocabulary  of  intelligible  expressions. ^  Our  theme  was  selected 
long  before  these  and  similar  articles  appeared. 

Not  only  professional  philosophers  but  also  our  colleagues 

^  W.  I.  Matson,  "On  the  Irrelevance  of  Free  Will  to  Moral  Responsibility, 
and  the  Vacuity  of  the  Latter,"  Mind  (October  1956). 


8    /    Preface 

in  other  fields  are  astir  over  the  issue.  Three  converging  tend- 
encies of  thought  have  contributed  to  a  revival  of  interest  in 
the  question  of  determinism  and  freedom. 

The  first  is  political  and  social.  Whereas  in  the  past  the  ex- 
tension of  the  deterministic  philosophy  in  the  natural  sciences 
was  hailed  as  a  support  of  human  freedom  because  it  in- 
creased man's  power  of  control  over  nature,  today  belief  in 
determinism  in  the  social  sciences  and  social  affairs  is  feared 
by  many  because  it  increases  the  power  of  men  to  control 
other  men.  Some  individuals  confess  that  it  is  not  only  Or- 
well's scientifically  controlled  1984  that  causes  their  hackles 
to  rise  in  fear  but  even  the  picture  of  comparatively  sunny 
communities  like  that  drawn  in  Skinner's  Walden  II.  In  some 
quarters  this  reaction  has  gone  so  far  that  even  the  term 
"planning"  and  the  notion  of  a  "planned  society,"  which  a 
short  generation  ago  was  the  hallmark  of  a  rational  social 
philosophy,  are  viewed  with  suspicion  as  suggesting,  if  not 
evidencing,  a  conspiracy  against  human  freedom. 

The  second  reason  for  a  revival  of  interest  in  our  theme  is 
that  in  the  very  stronghold  of  traditional  determinism,  the 
natural  sciences,  the  field  in  which  determinism  celebrated  its 
greatest  triumph,  the  belief  in  the  doctrine  or  postulate  of 
universal  determinism  seems  to  have  been  surrendered  in  an 
effort  to  understand  the  world  of  subatomic  behavior.  The 
actual  relevance  of  these  glad  tidings  to  the  momentous  issues 
of  human  freedom  and  responsibility  remains  to  be  estab- 
lished. But  in  the  writings  of  several  eminent  scientists  it  has 
been  eloquently  proclaimed. 

The  third  reason  for  the  actualite  of  our  theme  derives  from 
growth  of  interest  in  modern  psychology,  psychiatry,  and 
psychoanalysis  in  all  their  scientific  and  mythological  forms. 
The  apparent  upshot  of  the  acceptance  of  determinism  in  ex- 
plaining the  human  psyche  is  the  belief  that  the  more  we  learn 
about  a  man's  past  history,  the  less  he  seems  responsible  for 
his  present  behavior.  This  conclusion  has  affected  thinking 
and  practice  in  law,  pedagogy,  and  social  work,  and  has  pro- 
duced something  of  a  revolution  in  penology.  Sometimes  its 
proponents  rather  inconsistently  blame  us  for  blaming  Hitler 
and  Stalin  for  the  crimes  they  voluntarily  committed,  on  the 
ground  that  since  Hitler  and  Stalin  were  once  babies — hard  as 
it  is  to  imagine — they  must  have  inherited  or  acquired  the 
comr'exes  and  obsessional  drives  that  caused  them  to  do  what 
they  couldn't  help  doing.  Even  when  pruned  of  inconsistency, 
this   argument   threatens   to  produce   a  revolution   in   moral 

Preface    /    9 

theory  by  asserting  that  the  concept  of  moral  responsibility  is 
completely  vacuous. 

The  strategy  of  our  discussion  it  to  begin  with  an  analysis 
of  the  general  concept  of  determinism,  to  proceed  to  the 
notion  of  determinism  in  physics,  and  to  conclude  with  a  dis- 
cussion of  freedom  and  responsibility  in  law  and  ethics. 

The  papers  of  the  readers  and  selected  commentators  are 
here  reproduced  substantially  in  the  form  in  which  they  were 
presented  to  the  Institute.  Most  of  the  other  comments  by 
participants  in  the  Institute  are  elaborations  of  comments  and 
criticisms  made  after  the  papers  were  presented.  Some  of  the 
comments  are  a  result  of  post-Institute  reflection  on  the 
spirited  give  and  take  among  the  participants,  which  technical 
difficulties  prevented  us  from  reproducing  in  their  entirety. 

Sidney  Hook 

New  York  University 


by  President  Carroll  V.  Newsom, 
New  York  University 

Part  I       Determinism  in  Philosophy 

>  1       THE  .CASE  FOR  DETERMINISM  19 

by  Brand  Blanshard,  Yale  University 


by  Max  Black,  Cornell  University 


by  William  Barrett,  New  York  University 
Part  II       Determinism  in  Modem  Science 


by  Percy  W.  Bridgman,  Harvard  University 


by  Milton  K.  Munitz,  New  York  University 


by  Alfred  Lande,  Ohio  State  University 


by  Dennis  W.  Sciama,  Trinity  College, 
Cambridge  University 

Part  III       Determinism  and  Responsibility 
in  Law  and  Ethics 


by  H.  L.  A.  Hart,  Oxford  University 


by  Paul  Edwards,  New  York  University 

N    3      WHAT  MEANS  THIS  FREEDOM?  126 

vy^  by  John  Hospers,  Brooklyn  College 

12    /    Contents 
Part  IV     Discussion 

1  "excusing  conditions"  and  moral  responsibility  145 

by  Elizabeth  Lane  Beardsley,  Lincoln 


by  Richard  Brandt,  Swarthmore  College 


by  Percy  W.  Bridgman,  Harvard  University 


by  Roderick  W.  Chisholm,  Brown  University 


by  C.  J.  Ducasse,  Brown  University 


By  Carl  G.  Hempel,  Princeton  University 


by  Howard  W,  Hintz,  Brooklyn  College 


by  Sidney  Hook,  New  York  University 



by  Abba  Lemer,  Roosevelt  College 


by  Ernest  Nagel,  Columbia  University 


by  F.  S.  C.  Northrop,  School  of  Law,  Yale 


by  Arthur  Pap,  Yale  University 


by  Alfred  Schultz,  New  School  for 
Social  Research 

Contents     /     13 


by  Dennis  W.  Sciama,  Trinity  College, 
Cambridge  University 


by  Richard  Taylor,  Brown  University 


by  Paul  Weiss,  Yale  University 

17  ON  CAUSATION  237 

by  H.  Van  R.  Wilson,  Brooklyn  College 

INDEX  245 

{From  the  welcoming  address  to  participants  in  the  first  New  York  University 
Institute  of  Philisophy) 

In  behalf  of  New  York  University  it  gives  me  great  pleasure 
to  welcome  the  participants  to  this  the  first  meeting  of  the 
New  York  University  Institute  of  Philosophy.  A  university 
exists  to  achieve  many  purposes.  But  however  varied  its  pur- 
poses, the  spirit  of  the  university  is  found  at  its  best  only 
where  men  are  found  thinking  together.  Thinking  together  is 
something  more  than  explicit  teaching  and  learning,  although 
it  may  be  that,  too.  It  is  a  process  of  mutual  stimulus  and 
response  in  which  our  minds  become  clearer,  even  when  they 
are  not  altered  by  the  give  and  take  of  intellectual  exchange. 
It  is  a  process  whose  outcome  determines  whether  our  ideas 
— most  of  them  held  with  equal  initial  conviction — are  firm 
principles  or  only  familiar  prejudices.  Sometimes  thinking 
together  is  not  only  a  dialogue  that  contributes  to  conceptual 
clarification  and  self-understanding  but  a  common  voyage  of 
intellectual  discovery.  Even  when  discoveries  are  made  by  a 
solitary  thinker,  they  are  not  seldom  influenced  by  the  funded 
results  of  previous  thinking  together. 

The  New  York  University  Institute  of  Philosophy  has  in- 
vited not  only  distinguished  philosophers  from  other  leading 
universities  to  these  deliberations  but  representatives  of  other 
disciplines.  This  expresses  a  unity  or  convergence  of  interest 
on  common  problems,  not  a  unity  of  doctrine  or  point  of 
view.  In  a  world  where  specialization  tends  to  make  every 
scholar  in  the  university  an  expert  and  none  able  to  under- 
stand or  talk  to  his  colleague,  opportunities  for  intellectual 
co-operation  should  be  encouraged. 

I  therefore  hope  that  this  series  of  meetings  will  be  the  first 
of  a  long  line  of  similar  proceedings  contributing  to  the  en- 
richment of  intellectual  life  in  America. 

Carroll  V.  Newsom 

President,  New  York  University 


PART    I 

Determinism  in  Philosophy 

Chapter  1 

The  Case  for  Determiiissm 

Brand  Blanshard,  Yale  University 

I  AM  A  DETERMiNisT.  NoDc  of  the  arguments  oflfered  on  the 
other  side  seem  of  much  weight  except  one  form  of  the  moral 
argument,  and  that  itself  is  far  from  decisive.  Perhaps  the 
most  useful  thing  I  can  do  in  this  paper  is  explain  why  the 
cormnoner  arguments  for  indeterminism  do  not,  to  my  mind, 
carry  conviction.  In  the  course  of  this  explanation  the  brand 
of  determinism  to  which  I  am  inclined  should  become  gradu- 
ally apparent. 

But  first  a  definition  or  two.  Determinism  is  easier  to  de- 
fine than  indeterminism,  and  at  first  glance  there  seems  to  be 
no  difficulty  in  saying  what  one  means  by  it.  It  is  the  view  that  ^ 
all  events  are  caused.  But  unless  one  also  says  what  one  means 
by  "event"  and  "caused,"  there  is  Ukely  to  be  trouble  later. 
Do  I  include  among  events  not  only  changes  but  the  lack  of 
change,  not  only  the  fall  of  the  water  over  the  cataract's  edge, 
but  the  persistence  of  ice  in  the  frozen  river?  The  answer  is 
"Yes."  By  an  event  I  mean  any  change  or  persistence  of  state 
or  position.  And  what  is  meant  by  saying  that  an  event  is 
caused?  The  natural  answer  is  that  the  event  is  so  connected 
with  some  preceding  event  that  unless  the  latter  had  occurred 
the  former  would  not  have  occurred.  Indeterminism  means 
the  denial  of  this.  And  the  denial  of  this  is  the  statement  that 
there  is  at  least  one  event  to  which  no  preceding  event  is 
necessary.  But  that  gets  us  into  trouble  at  once,  for  it  is  doubt- 
ful if  any  indeterminist  would  want  to  make  such  an  assertion. 
What  he  wants  to  say  is  that  his  decision  to  tell  the  truth  is 
undetermined,  not  that  there  is  no  preceding  event  necessary 
to  it.  He  would  not  contend,  for  example,  that  he  could  tell 
the  truth  if  he  had  never  been  bom.  No,  the  casual  statement 
to  which  the  indeterminist  takes  exception  is  a  different  one. 
He  is  not  saying  that  there  is  any  event  to  which  some  nam- 
able  antecedents  are  not  necessary;  he  is  saying  that  there  are 
some  events  whose  antecedents  do  not  make  them  necessary. 
I  He  is  not  denying  that  all  consequents  have  necessary  ante- 
cedents; he  is  denying  that  all  antecedents  have  necessary 
consequents.' He  is  saying  that  the  state  of  things  just  before 


20     /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

he  decided  to  tell  the  truth  might  have  been  exactly  what  it 
was  and  yet  he  might  have  decided  to  tell  a  lie. 

By  determinism,  then,  I  mean  the  view  that  every  event  A 
is  so  C9nnected  with  a  later  event  B  that,  given  A,  B  must 
occur.  ByCindeterminism  I  mean  the  view  that  there  is  some 
event  B  that  is  not  so  connected  with  any  previous  event  A 
that,  given  A,  it  must  occur.  Now,  what  is  meant  here  by 
"must"?  We  cannot  in  the  end  evade  that  question,  but  I  hope 
you  will  not  take  it  as  an  evasion  if  at  this  point  I  am  content 
to  let  you  fill  in  the  blank  in  any  way  you  wish.  Make  it  a 
logical  "must,"  if  you  care  to,  or  a  physical  or  metaphysical 
"must,"  or  even  the  watered-down  "must"  that  means  "A  is 
always  in  fact  followed  by  B."  We  can  discuss  the  issue  use- 
fully though  we  leave  ourselves  some  latitude  on  this  point. 

With  these  definitions  in  mind,  let  us  ask  what  are  the  most 
important  grounds  for  indeterminism.  This  is  not  the  same  as 
asking  what  commonly  moves  people  to  be  indeterminists;  the 
answer  to  that  seems  to  me  all  too  easy.  Everyone  vaguely 
knows  that  to  be  undetermined  is  to  be  free,  and  everyone 
wants  to  be  free.  My  question  is  rather.  When  reflective 
people  accept  the  indeterminist  view  nowadays,  what  con- 
siderations seem  most  cogent  to  them?  It  seems  to  me  that 
there  are  three:  first,  the  stubborn  feeling  of  freedom,  which 
seems  to  resist  all  dialectical  solvents;  second,  the  conviction 
that  natural  science  itself  has  now  gone  over  to  the  indeter- 
minist side;  and,  third,  that  determinism  would  make  nonsense 
of  moral  responsibility.  The  third  of  these  seems  to  me  the 
most  important,  but  I  must  try  to  explain  why  none  of  them 
seem  to  me  conclusive. 

One  of  the  clearest  heads  that  ever  devoted  itself  to  this  old 
issue  was  Henry  Sidgwick.  Sidgwick  noted  that,  if  at  any  given 
moment  we  stop  to  think  about  it,  we  always  feel  as  if  more 
than  one  course  were  open  to  us,  that  we  could  speak  or  be 
silent,  lift  our  hand  or  not  lift  it.  If  the  determinist  is  right, 
this  must  be  an  illusion,  of  course,  for  whatever  we  might 
have  done,  there  must  have  been  a  cause,  given  which  we  had 
to  do  what  we  did.  Now,  a  mere  intuitive  assurance  about  our- 
selves may  be  a  very  weak  ground  for  belief;  Freud  has  shown 
us  that  we  may  be  profoundly  deceived  about  how  we  really 
feel  or  why  we  act  as  we  do.  But  the  curious  point  is  that, 
though  a  man  who  hates  his  father  without  knowing  it  can 
usually  be  shown  that  he  does  and  can  often  be  cured  of  his 
feeling,  no  amount  of  dialectic  seems  to  shake  our  feeling  of 
being  free  to  perform  either  of  two  proposed  acts.  By  this 

The  Case  for  Determinism     /     21 

feeling  of  being  free  I  do  not  mean  merely  the  freedom  to  do 
what  we  choose.  No  one  on  either  side  questions  that  we  have 
that  sort  of  freedom,  but  it  is  obviously  not  the  sort  of  free- 
dom that  the  indeterminist  wants,  since  it  is  consistent  with 
determinism  of  the  most  rigid  sort.  The  real  issue,  so  far  as 
the  will  is  concerned,  is  not  whether  we  can  do  what  we 
choose  to  do,  but  whether  we  can  choose  our  own  choice, 
whether  the  choice  itself  issues  in  accordance  with  law  from 
some  antecedent.  And  the  feeling  of  freedom  that  is  relevant 
as  evidence  is  the  feeling  of  an  open  future  as  regards  the 
choice  itself.  After  the  noise  of  argument  has  died  down,  a 
sort  of  intuition  stubbornly  remains  that  we  can  not  only  lift 
our  hand  if  we  choose,  but  that  the  choice  itself  is  open  to  us. 
It  this  not  an  impressive  fact? 

No,  I  do  not  think  it  is.  The  first  reason  is  that  when  we 
are  making  a  choice  our  faces  are  always  turned  toward  the 
future,  toward  the  consequences  that  one  act  or  the  other 
will  bring  us,  never  toward  the  past  with  its  possible  sources 
of  constraint.  Hence  these  sources  are  not  noticed.  Hence  we 
remain  unaware  that  we  are  under  constraint  at  all.  Hence  we 
feel  free  from  such  constraint.  The  case  is  almost  as  simple  as 
that.  When  you  consider  buying  a  new  typewriter  your  thought 
is  fixed  on  the  pleasure  and  advantage  you  would  gain  from  it, 
or  the  drain  it  would  make  on  your  budget.  You  are  not  delv- 
ing into  the  causes  that  led  to  your  taking  pleasure  in  the 
prospect  of  owning  a  typewriter  or  to  your  having  a  complex 
about  expenditure.  You  are  too  much  preoccupied  with  the 
ends  to  which  the  choice  would  be  a  means  to  give  any  atten- 
tion to  the  causes  of  which  your  choice  may  be  an  effect.  But 
that  is  no  reason  for  thinking  that  if  you  did  preoccupy  your- 
self with  these  causes  you  would  not  find  them  at  work.  You 
may  remember  that  Sir  Francis  Galton  was  so  much  im- 
pressed with  this  possibility  that  for  some  time  he  kept  account 
in  a  notebook  of  the  occasions  on  which  he  made  important 
choices  with  a  full  measure  of  this  feeling  of  freedom;  then 
shortly  after  each  choice  he  turned  his  eye  backward  in  search 
of  constraints  that  might  have  been  acting  on  him  stealthily. 
He  found  it  so  easy  to  bring  such  constraining  factors  to  light 
that  he  surrendered  to  the  determinist  view. 

But  this,  you  may  say,  is  not  enough.  Our  preoccupation 
with  the  future  may  show  why  we  are  not  aware  of  the  con- 
straints acting  on  us,  and  hence  why  we  do  not  feel  bound  by 
them;  it  does  not  explain  why  our  sense  of  freedom  persists 
after  the  constraints  are  disclosed  to  us.  By  disclosing  the 

22    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

causes  of  some  fear,  for  example,  psychoanalytic  therapy  can 
remove  the  fear,  and  when  these  causes  are  brought  to  light, 
the  fear  commonly  does  go.  How  is  it,  then,  that  when  the 
causes  of  our  volition  are  brought  to  light  volition  continues 
to  feel  as  free  as  before?  Does  this  not  show  that  it  is  really 
independent  of  those  causes? 

No  again.  The  two  cases  are  not  parallel.  The  man  with  the 
panic  fear  of  dogs  is  investing  all  dogs  with  the  qualities — 
remembered,  though  in  disguised  form — of  the  monster  that 
frightened  him  as  a  child.  When  this  monster  and  his  relation 
to  it  are  brought  to  light,  so  that  they  can  be  dissociated  from 
the  Fidos  and  Towsers  around  him,  the  fear  goes,  because  its 
appropriate  object  has  gone.  It  is  quite  different  with  our  feel- 
ing of  freedom.  We  feel  free,  it  was  suggested,  because  we  are 
not  aware  of  the  forces  acting  on  us.  Now,  in  spite  of  the 
determinist's  conviction  that  when  a  choice  is  made  there  are 
always  causal  influences  at  work,  he  does  not  pretend  to  reveal 
the  influences  at  work  in  our  present  choice.  The  chooser's 
face  is  always  turned  forward;  his  present  choice  is  always 
unique;  and  no  matter  how  much  he  knows  about  the  will  and 
the  laws,  his  present  choice  always  emerges  out  of  deep 
shadow.  The  determinist  who  buys  a  typewriter  is  as  little 
interested  at  the  moment  in  the  strings  that  may  be  pulling  at 
him  from  his  physiological  or  subconscious  cellars  as  his 
indeterminist  colleague,  and  hence  feels  just  as  free.  Thus, 
whereas  the  new  knowledge  gained  through  psychoanalysis 
does  remove  the  grounds  of  fear,  the  knowledge  gained  by  the 
determinist  is  not  at  ail  of  the  sort  that  would  remove  the 
grounds  for  the  feeling  of  freedom.  To  make  the  persistence 
of  this  feeling  in  the  determinist  an  argument  against  his  case 
is  therefore  a  confusion. 

The  second  reason,  I  suggested,  why  so  many  thoughtful 
persons  remain  indeterminists  is  that  they  are  convinced  that 
science  has  gone  indeterminist.  Well,  has  it?  If  you  follow 
Heisenberg,  Eddington,  and  Born,  it  has.  If  you  follow  Rus- 
sell, Planck,  and  Einstein,  it  has  not.  When  such  experts  dis- 
agree it  is  no  doubt  folly  for  the  layman  to  rush  in.  But  since 
I  am  discussing  the  main  reasons  why  people  stick  to  indeter- 
minism,  and  have  admitted  that  the  new  physics  is  one  of 
them,  I  cannot  afford  to  be  quite  prudent.  Let  me  say,  then, 
with  much  hesitation  that,  as  far  as  I  can  follow  the  argu- 
ment, it  provides  no  good  evidence  for  indeterminism  even  in 
the  physical  world,  and  that,  if  it  did,  it  would  provide  no 
good  evidence  for  indeterminism  in  the  realm  of  will. 

The  Case  for  Determinism     /    23 

First  as  to  physical  indeterminism.  Physicists  now  tell  us 
that  descriptive  statements  about  the  behavior  of  bodies  are 
really  statistical  statements.  It  was  known  long  ago  that  the 
pressure  that  makes  a  football  hard  is  not  the  simple  quality 
one  feels  in  pushing  something:  it  is  the  beating  on  the  inner 
surface  of  the  football  of  millions  of  molecular  bullets.  We  now 
know  that  each  of  these  bulelts  is  a  swarm  of  atoms,  them- 
selves normally  swarms  of  still  minuter  somethings,  of  which 
the  proton  and  the  electron  are  typical.  The  physicist  admits 
that  the  behavior  of  an  enormous  mass  of  these  particles,  such 
as  a  billiard  ball,  is  so  stable  that  we  may  safely  consider  it  as 
governed  by  causal  law.  But  that  is  no  reason,  he  adds,  for 
assigning  a  like  stability  to  the  ultimate  particles  themselves. 
Indeed,  there  is  good  reason,  namely  the  principle  of  indeter- 
minacy, for  saying  that  they  sometimes  act  by  mere  chance. 
That  principle  tells  us  that  whereas,  when  we  are  talking  about 
a  billiard  ball,  we  can  say  that  it  has  a  certain  momentum  and 
direction  at  point  S  as  a  result  of  having  a  certain  momen- 
tum and  direction  at  point  A,  we  can  never  say  that  sort  of 
thing  about  an  electron.  Why?  Because  the  conditions  of  ob- 
servation are  such  that,  when  they  allow  us  to  fix  the  position 
exactly,  they  make  it  impossible  to  fix  the  momentum  exactly. 
Suppose  that  we  can  determine  the  position  of  a  moving  par- 
ticle with  more  accuracy  the  shorter  the  wave  length  of  light 
we  use.  But  suppose  that  the  shorter  the  wave  length,  the  more 
it  interferes  with  the  momentum  of  the  particle,  making  it  leap 
unpredictably  about.  And  suppose  there  is  no  way  of  deter- 
mining the  position  without  in  this  way  leaving  the  momentum 
vague,  or  of  determining  the  momentum  without  leaving  the 
position  vague.  It  will  then  be  impossible  to  state  any  precise 
law  that  governs  the  particle's  movement.  We  can  never  say 
that  such-and-such  a  momentum  at  point  A  was  necessarily 
followed  by  such-and-such  a  momentum  at  point  B,  because 
these  statements  can  have  no  precise  meaning,  and  can  be 
given  none,  for  either  antecedent  or  consequent.  Hence  to 
speak  any  longer  of  nature  as  governed  ultimately  by  causal 
laws — i.e.,  statements  of  precise  connection  between  ante- 
cedent and  consequent — is  simply  out  of  the  question. 

This  argument,  as  Sir  David  Ross  has  pointed  out,  may  be 
interpreted  in  different  ways.  It  may  be  taken  to  say  that, 
though  the  particle  does  have  a  certain  position  and  momen- 
tum, we  can  never  tell,  definitely  and  for  both  at  the  same 
time,  what  they  are.  Many  interpreters  thus  understand  the 
theory.  But  so  taken,  there  is  of  course  nothing  in  it  to  throw 

24    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

the  slightest  doubt  on  the  reign  of  causality.  It  is  merely  a 
statement  that  in  a  certain  region  our  knowledge  of  causal 
law  has  limits.  Secondly,  the  theory  might  be  taken  to  mean 
that  electrons  are  not  the  sort  of  things  that  have  position  and 
momentum  at  all  in  the  ordinary  sense,  but  are  fields,  per- 
haps, or  widespreading  waves.  This,  too,  has  no  suggestion  of 
indeterminism.  It  would  not  mean  that  general  statements 
about  the  nature  and  behavior  of  electrons  could  not  be  made, 
but  only  that  such  statements  would  not  contain  references  to 
position  and  momentum.  Thirdly,  the  theory  might  mean  that, 
though  these  particles  do  have  a  position  and  a  momentum, 
the  position  or  momentum  is  not  definitely  this  rather  than 
that.  Even  laymen  must  rise  at  this  point  and  protest,  with  all 
respect,  that  this  is  meaningless.  Vagueness  in  our  thought  of 
a  position  makes  sense;  vagueness  of  actual  position  makes 
none.  Or,  finally,  the  argument  may  mean  that,  though  the 
particle  does  have  a  definite  position  and  momentum,  these 
cannot  even  in  theory  be  correlated  with  anything  that  went 
before.  But  how  could  we  possibly  know  this?  The  only 
ground  for  accepting  it  is  that  we  do  not  know  of  any  such 
correlates.  And  that  is  no  reason  for  denying  that  any  exist. 
Indeed,  to  deny  this  is  to  abandon  the  established  assumption 
and  practice  of  science.  Science  has  advanced  in  the  past  pre- 
cisely because,  when  things  happened  whose  causes  were  un- 
known, it  was  assumed  that  they  had  causes  nevertheless.  To 
assume  that  a  frustration  of  present  knowledge,  even  one  that 
looks  permanent,  is  a  sign  of  chance  in  nature  is  both  practic- 
ally uncourageous  and  theoretically  a  non  sequitur. 

But  let  us  supfKDse  that  the  Eddingtonians  are  right  and  that 
what  has  been  called  "free  will  among  the  electrons"  is  the 
fact.  Would  that  imply  indeterminism  in  the  realm  that  most 
nearly  concerns  us,  the  realm  of  choice?  I  cannot  see  that  it 
would.  The  argument  supposed  to  show  that  it  would  is  as 
follows:  Psychical  processes  depend  on  physical  processes. 
But  physical  processes  are  themselves  at  bottom  unpredict- 
able. Hence  the  psychical  processes  dependent  on  them  must 
share  this  unpredictability.  Stated  in  the  abstract,  the  argu- 
ment sounds  impressive.  But  what  does  it  actually  come  to? 
We  are  told  that,  even  if  there  is  inconstancy  in  the  behavior 
of  single  particles,  there  is  no  observable  inconstancy  in  the 
behavior  of  masses  of  them;  the  particles  of  a  billiard  ball  are 
never  able  to  get  together  and  go  on  a  spree  simultaneously. 

The  Case  for  Determinism     /    25 

Eddington  admitted  that  they  might,  just  as  he  admitted  that 
an  army  of  monkeys  with  a  million  typewriters  might  produce 
all  the  books  in  the  British  Museum,  but  he  admitted  also  that 
the  chance  of  a  billiard  ball's  behaving  in  this  way  were  so 
astronomically  remote  that  he  would  not  believe  it  if  he  saw  it. 

The  question  of  importance  for  us,  then,  is  whether,  if  acts 
of  choice  are  dependent  on  physical  processes  at  all,  they  de- 
pend on  the  behavior  of  particles  singly  or  on  that  of  masses  of 
particles.  To  this  there  can  be  but  one  answer.  They  depend 
on  mass  behavior.  An  act  of  choice  is  an  extremely  complex 
process.  It  involves  the  idea  of  one  or  more  ends,  the  associa- 
tion of  that  idea  with  more  or  less  numerous  other  ideas,  the 
presence  of  desires  and  repulsions,  and  the  operation  of  habits 
and  impulses;  indeed,  in  those  choices  for  which  freedom  is 
most  demanded,  the  whole  personality  seems  to  be  at  work. 
The  cortical  basis  for  so  complex  a  process  must  be  extremely 
broad.  But  if  it  is,  the  great  mass  of  cells  involved  must,  by  the 
physicist's  admission,  act  with  a  high  stability,  and  the  corre- 
lated psychical  processes  must  show  a  similar  stability.  But 
that  is  what  we  mean  by  action  in  accordance  with  causal 
law.  So,  even  if  the  physicists  are  right  about  the  unstable  be- 
havior of  single  particles,  there  is  no  reason  whatever  for 
translating  this  theory  into  a  doctrine  of  indeterminism  for 
human  choice. 

We  come  now  to  the  third  of  the  reasons  commonly  ad- 
vanced in  support  of  indeterminism.  This  is  that  determinism 
makes  a  mess  of  morality.  The  charge  has  taken  many  forms. 
We  are  told  that  determinism  makes  praise  and  blame  mean- 
ingless, punishment  brutal,  remorse  pointless,  amendment 
hopeless,  duty  a  deceit.  All  these  allegations  have  been  effec- 
tively answered  except  the  one  about  duty,  where  I  admit  I 
am  not  quite  satisfied.  But  none  of  them  are  in  the  form  in 
which  determinism  most  troubles  the  plain  man.  What  most 
affronts  him,  I  think,  is  the  suggestion  that  he  is  only  a  ma- 
chine, a  big  foolish  clock  that  seems  to  itself  to  be  acting 
freely,  but  whose  movements  are  controlled  completely  by 
the  wheels  and  weights  inside,  a  Punch-and-Judy  show  whose 
appearance  of  doing  things  because  they  are  right  or  reason- 
able is  a  sham  because  everything  is  mechanically  regulated 
by  wires  from  below.  He  has  no  objections  to  determinism  as 
applied  by  physicists  to  atoms,  by  himself  to  machines,  or  by 
his  doctor  to  his  body.  He  has  an  emphatic  objection  to  deter- 
minism as  applied  by  anyone  to  his  reflection  and  his  will,  for 

26    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

this  seems  to  make  him  a  gigantic  mechanical  toy,  or  worse, 
a  sort  of  Frankenstein  monster. 

In  this  objection  I  think  we  must  agree  wtih  the  plain  man. 
If  anyone  were  to  show  me  that  determinism  involved  either 
materialism  or  mechanism,  I  would  renounce  it  at  once,  for 
that  would  be  equivalent,  in  my  opinion,  to  reducing  it  to 
absurdity.  The  "physicalism"  once  proposed  by  Neurath  and 
Carnap  as  a  basis  for  the  scientific  study  of  behavior  I  could 
not  accept  for  a  moment,  because  it  is  so  dogmatically  anti- 
empirical.  To  use  empirical  methods  means,  for  me,  not  to  ap- 
proach nature  with  a  preconceived  notion  as  to  what  facts 
must  be  like,  but  to  be  ready  to  consider  all  kinds  of  alleged 
facts  on  their  merits.  Among  these  the  introspectively  observ- 
able fact  or  reflective  choice,  and  the  inference  to  its  existence 
in  others,  are  particularly  plain,  however  different  from  any- 
thing that  occurs  in  the  realm  of  the  material  or  the  publicly 
observable  or  the  mechanically  controlled. 

Now,  what  can  be  meant  by  saying  that  such  choice,  though 
not  determined  mechanically,  is  still  determined?  Are  you 
suggesting,  it  will  be  asked,  that  in  the  realm  of  reflection  and 
choice  there  operates  a  different  kind  of  causality  from  any  we 
know  in  the  realm  of  bodies?  My  answer  is:  Yes,  just  that.  To 
put  it  more  particularly,  I  am  suggesting  ( 1 )  that  even  within 
the  psychical  realm  there  are  different  causal  levels,  (2)  that 
a  causality  of  higher  level  may  supervene  on  one  of  lower 
level,  and  (3)  that  when  causality  of  the  highest  level  is  at 
work,  we  have  precisely  what  the  indeterminists,  without 
knowing  it,  want. 

1.  First,  then,  as  to  causal  levels.  I  am  assuming  that  even 
the  indeterminist  would  admit  that  most  mental  events  are 
causally  governed.  No  one  would  want  to  deny  that  his 
stepping  on  a  tack  had  something  to  do  with  his  feeling  pain, 
or  that  his  touching  a  flame  had  something  to  do  with  his  get- 
ting burned,  or  that  his  later  thought  of  the  flame  had  some- 
thing to  do  with  his  experience  of  its  hotness.  A  law  of  associ- 
ation is  a  causal  law  of  mental  events.  In  one  respect  it  is  like 
a  law  of  physical  events:  in  neither  case  have  we  any  light  as 
to  why  the  consequent  follows  on  the  antecedent.  Hume  was 
right  about  the  billiard  balls.  He  was  right  about  the  flame 
and  the  heat;  we  do  not  see  why  something  bright  and  yellow 
should  also  be  hot.  He  was  right  about  association;  we  do  not 
understand  how  one  idea  calls  up  another;  we  only  know  that 
it  does.  Causality  in  all  such  cases  means  to  us  little  if  any- 
thing more  than  a  routine  of  regular  sequence. 

The  Case  for  Determinism     /    27 

Is  all  mental  causation  like  that?  Surely  not.  Consider  a 
musician  composing  a  piece  or  a  logician  making  a  deduction. 
Let  us  make  our  musician  a  philosopher  also,  who  after  add- 
ing a  bar  pauses  to  ask  himself,  "Why  did  I  add  just  that?" 
Can  we  believe  he  would  answer,  "Because  whenever  in  the 
past  I  have  had  the  preceding  bars  in  mind,  they  have  always 
been  followed  by  this  bar"?  What  makes  this  suggestion  so 
inept  is  partly  that  he  may  never  have  thought  of  the  preced- 
ing bars  before,  partly  that,  if  he  had,  the  repetition  of  an 
old  sequence  would  be  precisely  what  he  would  avoid.  No,  his 
answer,  I  think,  would  be  something  like  this:  "I  wrote  what 
I  did  because  it  seemed  the  right  thing  to  do.  I  developed  my 
theme  in  the  manner  demanded  to  carry  it  through  in  an 
aesthetically  satisfactory  way."  In  other  words,  the  constraint 
that  was  really  at  work  in  him  was  not  that  of  association;  it 
was  something  that  worked  distinctly  against  association;  it 
was  the  constraint  of  an  aesthetic  ideal.  And,  if  so,  there  is  a 
causality  of  a  different  level.  It  is  idle  to  say  that  the  musician 
is  wholly  in  the  dark  about  it.  He  can  see  not  only  that  B 
succeeded  A;  as  he  looks  back,  he  can  see  in  large  measure 
why  it  did. 

It  is  the  same  with  logical  inference,  only  more  clearly  so. 
The  thinker  starts,  let  us  say,  with  the  idea  of  a  regular  solid 
whose  faces  are  squares,  and  proceeds  to  develop  in  thought 
the  further  characteristics  that  such  a  solid  must  possess.  He 
constructs  it  in  imagination  and  then  sees  that  it  must  have  six 
faces,  eight  vertices,  and  twelve  edges.  Is  this  association 
merely?  It  may  be.  It  is,  for  example,  if  he  merely  does  in 
imagination  what  a  child  does  when  it  counts  the  edges  on  a 
lump  of  sugar.  This  is  not  inference  and  does  not  feel  like  it. 
When  a  person,  starting  with  the  thought  of  a  solid  with 
square  faces,  deduces  that  it  must  have  eight  vertices,  and 
then  asks  why  he  should  have  thought  of  that,  the  natural 
answer  is,  Because  the  first  property  entails  the  second.  Of 
course  this  is  not  the  only  condition,  but  it  seems  to  me  con- 
trary to  introspectively  plain  fact  to  say  that  it  had  nothing  to 
do  with  the  movement  of  thought.  It  is  easy  to  put  this  in  such 
a  way  as  to  invite  attack.  If  we  say  that  the  condition  of  our 
thinking  of  B  is  the  observed  necessity  between  A  and  B,  we 
are  assuming  that  B  is  already  thought  of  as  a  means  of  ex- 
plaining how  it  comes  to  be  thought  of.  But  that  is  not  what  I 
am  saying.  I  am  saying  that  in  thinking  at  its  best  thought 
comes  under  the  constraint  of  necessities  in  its  object,  so  that 
the  objective  fact  that  A  necessitates  B  partially  determines 

28    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

our  passing  in  thought  from  A  to  B.  Even  when  the  explana- 
tion is  put  in  this  form,  the  objection  has  been  raised  that 
necessity  is  a  timeless  link  between  concepts,  while  causality 
is  a  temporal  bond  between  events,  and  that  the  two  must  be 
kept  sharply  apart.  To  which  the  answer  is:  Distinct,  yes;  but 
always  apart,  no.  A  timeless  relation  may  serve  perfectly  weU 
as  the  condition  of  a  temporal  passage.  I  hold  that  in  the 
course  of  our  thinking  we  can  easily  verify  this  fact,  and,  be- 
cause I  do,  I  am  not  put  off  by  pronouncements  about  what 
we  should  and  should  not  be  able  to  see. 

2.  My  second  point  about  the  causal  levels  is  that  our 
mental  processes  seldom  move  on  one  level  alone.  The  higher 
is  always  supervening  on  the  lower  and  taking  over  partial 
control.  Though  brokenly  and  imperfectly  rational,  rational 
creatures  we  still  are.  It  must  be  admitted  that  most  of  our  so- 
called  thinking  moves  by  association,  and  is  hardly  thinking 
at  all.  But  even  in  the  dullest  of  us  "bright  shoots  of  everlast- 
ingness,"  strands  of  necessity,  aesthetic  or  logical,  from  time 
to  time  appear.  "The  quarto  and  folio  editions  of  mankind" 
can  follow  the  argument  with  fewer  lapses  than  most  of  us; 
in  the  texts  of  the  greatest  of  all  dramas,  we  are  told,  there 
was  seldom  a  blot  or  erasure;  but  Ben  Jonson  added,  and  no 
doubt  rightly,  that  there  ought  to  have  been  a  thousand.  The 
effort  of  both  thought  and  art  is  to  escape  the  arbitrary,  the 
merely  personal,  everything  that,  causal  and  capricious,  is  ir- 
relevant, and  to  keep  to  lines  appointed  by  the  whole  that  one 
is  constructing.  I  do  not  suggest  that  logical  and  aesthetic 
necessity  are  the  same.  I  do  say  that  they  are  both  to  be  dis- 
tinguished from  association  or  habit  as  representing  a  different 
level  of  control.  That  control  is  never  complete;  all  creation 
in  thought  or  art  is  successful  in  degree  only.  It  is  successful 
in  the  degree  to  which  it  ceases  to  be  an  expression  of  merely 
personal  impulses  and  becomes  the  instrument  of  a  necessity 
lying  in  its  own  subject  matter. 

3.  This  brings  us  to  our  last  point.  Since  moral  choice,  like 
thought  and  art,  moves  on  different  causal  levels,  it  achieves 
freedom,  just  as  they  do,  only  when  it  is  determined  by  its 
own  appropriate  necessity.  Most  of  our  so-called  choices  are 
so  clearly  brought  about  by  association,  impulse,  and  feeling 
that  the  judicious  indeterminist  wiU  raise  no  issue  about  them. 
When  we  decide  to  get  a  drink  of  water,  to  take  another  nibble 
of  chocolate,  to  go  to  bed  at  the  usual  hour,  the  forces  at 
work  are  too  plain  to  be  denied.  It  is  not  acts  like  these  on 
which  the  indeterminist  takes  his  stand.  It  is  rather  on  those 

The  Case  for  Determinism     /    29 

where,  with  habit,  impulse,  and  association  prompting  us 
powerfully  to  do  X,  we  see  that  we  ought  to  do  Y  and  there- 
fore do  it.  To  suppose  that  in  such  cases  we  are  still  the  pup- 
pets of  habit  and  impulse  seems  to  the  indeterminist  palpably 

So  it  does  to  us.  Surely  about  this  the  indeterminist  is  right. 
Action  impelled  by  the  sense  of  duty,  as  Kant  perceived,  is  ac- 
tion on  a  different  level  from  anything  mechanical  or  associ- 
ative. But  Kant  was  mistaken  in  supposing  that  when  we  were 
determined  by  reason  we  were  not  determined  at  all.  This 
supposition  seems  to  me  wholly  unwarranted.  The  determina- 
tion is  still  there,  but,  since  it  is  a  determination  by  the  moral 
necessities  of  the  case,  it  is  just  what  the  moral  man  wants 
and  thus  is  the  equivalent  of  freedom.  For  the  moral  man, 
like  the  logician  and  the  artist,  is  really  seeking  self-surrender. 
Through  him  as  through  the  others  an  impersonal  ideal  is 
working,  and  to  the  extent  that  this  ideal  takes  possession  of 
him  and  molds  him  according  to  its  pattern,  he  feels  free  and 
is  free. 

The  logician  is  most  fully  himself  when  the  wind  gets  into 
his  sails  and  carries  him  effortlessly  along  the  line  of  his  calcu- 
lations. Many  an  artist  and  musician  have  left  it  on  record  that 
their  best  work  was  done  when  the  whole  they  were  creating 
took  the  brush  or  pen  away  from  them  and  completed  the 
work  itself.  It  determined  them,  but  they  were  free,  because 
to  be  determined  by  this  whole  was  at  once  the  secret  of  their 
craft  and  the  end  of  their  desire.  This  is  the  condition  of  the 
moral  man  also.  He  has  caught  a  vision,  dimmer  perhaps  than 
that  of  the  logician  or  the  artist,  but  equally  objective  and 
compelling.  It  is  a  vision  of  the  good.  This  good  necessitates 
certain  things,  not  as  means  to  ends  merely,  for  that  is  not 
usually  a  necessary  link,  but  as  integral  parts  of  itself.  It  re- 
quires that  he  should  put  love  above  hate,  that  he  should  re- 
gard his  neighbor's  good  as  of  like  value  with  his  own,  that  he 
should  repair  injuries,  and  express  gratitude,  and  respect  prom- 
ises, and  revere  truth.  Of  course  it  does  not  guide  him  infall- 
ibly. On  the  values  of  a  particular  case  he  may  easily  be  mis- 
taken. But  that  no  more  shows  that  there  are  no  values  present 
to  be  estimated,  and  no  ideal  demanding  a  special  mode  of 
action,  than  the  fact  that  we  make  a  mistake  in  adding  figures 
shows  that  there  are  no  figures  to  be  added,  or  a  right  way  of 
adding  them.  In  both  instances  what  we  want  is  control  by 
the  objective  requirements  of  the  case.  The  saint,  like  the 
thinker  and  the  artist,  has  often  said  this  in  so  many  words. 

30    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

I  feel  most  free,  said  St.  Paul,  precisely  when  I  am  most  a 

We  have  now  dealt,  as  best  we  can  in  a  restricted  space, 
with  the  three  commonest  objections  to  determinism.  They  all 
seem  to  admit  of  answers.  To  the  objection  that  we  always  feel 
free,  we  answer  that  it  is  natural  to  feel  so,  even  if  we  are 
determined,  since  our  faces  are  set  toward  results  and  not  to- 
ward causes,  and  the  causes  of  present  action  always  elude  us. 
To  the  objection  that  science  has  gone  indeterminist,  we  an- 
swer that  that  is  only  one  interpretation  of  recent  discoveries, 
and  not  the  most  plausible  one,  and  that,  even  if  it  were  true, 
it  would  not  carry  with  it  indeterminism  for  human  choice. 
To  the  objection  that  determinism  would  reduce  us  to  the  level 
of  mechanical  puppets,  we  answer  that  though  we  are  puppets 
in  part  we  hve,  as  Aristotle  said,  on  various  levels.  And  so  far 
as  causality  in  reflection,  art,  and  moral  choice  involves  con- 
trol by  immanent  ideal,  mechanism  has  passed  over  into  that 
[rational  determinism  that  is  the  best  kind  of  freedom. 

Chapter  2 

Max  Black,  Cornell  University 


You  ARE  TmRSTY,  but  there  is  a  glass  of  beer  within  easy 
reach;  you  stretch  out  your  hand,  bring  the  glass  to  your  lips, 
and  drink.  Here  is  what  I  call  a  perfectly  clear  case  of  making 
something  happen.  When  you  brought  the  glass  nearer,  that 
was  a  perfect  instance  of  what  all  of  us  call  "making  some- 
thing happen."^  But  of  course  many  other  simple  actions 
would  serve  just  as  well:  closing  a  window,  opening  a  drawer, 
turning  a  doorknob,  sharpening  a  pencil.  Any  number  of  per- 
fectly clear  cases  can  be  found  of  making  something  happen. 

The  following  is  not  a  clear  case  of  making  something  hap- 
pen. On  hearing  the  opening  of  this  paper,  a  member  of  the 
audience  leaves  the  room,  to  be  found  later  in  the  nearest 
saloon.  To  establish  that  my  remarks  made  him  leave  the 
room  would  require  a  specific  investigation.  Evidence  could 
be  obtained  for  or  against  the  view  that  talk  about  drinking 
had  made  the  hearer  leave;  until  such  evidence  had  been  pro- 
vided, the  final  verdict  would  remain  in  doubt. 

In  the  case  of  the  thirsty  man  reaching  for  the  glass,  an 
investigation  to  determine  whether  or  not  he  really  did  move 
the  glass  would  be  out  of  place.  There  would  be  an  absurdity 
in  saying  that  evidence  could  be  provided  for  or  against  the 
view  that  he  had  moved  the  glass;  or  in  saying  that  whether 
he  had  made  anything  happen  was  a  hypothesis.  It  would  be 
absurd  to  say  that  there  was  a  question  whether  he  had  moved 
the  glass,  and  that  the  answer  would  be  undecided  until 
further  evidence  had  been  weighed. 

For  what  could  be  the  goal  of  the  supposed  investigation? 

*  Or  rather  a  clear  case  of  "moving  a  glass."  The  expression  "making 
something  happen"  is  introduced  for  brevity  in  referring  to  similar  cases. 
The  first  part  of  the  paper  investigates  a  class  of  transitive  verbs,  like  "mov- 
ing," "breaking,"  "opening,"  "upsetting,"  etc.,  indicated  by  the  blanket  ex- 
pression "making  something  happen."  When  the  expression  "making  some- 
thing happen"  occurs,  the  reader  may  usually  imagine  the  more  specific 
expression  "moving  a  glass"  substituted — with  the  understanding,  however, 
that  the  discussion  is  intended  to  apply  indifferently  to  an  entire  class  of 
similar  expressions. 


32    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

If  somebody  is  not  already  satisfied  that  the  familiar  episode 
is  a  case  of  what  we  ordinarily  call  "making  something  hap- 
pen," it  is  inconceivable  that  further  empirical  evidence  would 
satisfy  him.  The  supposed  investigation  would  have  no  termi- 
nus; criteria  would  be  lacking  by  which  to  judge  the  relevance 
and  strength  of  testimony. 

I  am  trying  to  affirm  something  noncontroversial  and  hence 
acceptable  in  advance  of  any  philosophical  analysis  or  com- 
mitment. I  am  contending  that  we  do  all  treat  simple  episodes 
like  the  one  I  described  as  perfectly  clear  cases  of  making 
something  happen. 

We  do  in  fact  recognize  the  absurdity  of  a  supposed  attempt 
to  find  out  whether  the  drinker  had  made  the  glass  move. 
Suppose  I  were  to  say  to  somebody,  "You  saw  that  man  reach 
out  for  that  glass  of  beer  just  now — well,  find  out  whether 
he  moved  the  glass."  I  have  no  doubt  that  a  layman  would  be 
dumbfounded  and  quite  at  a  loss  to  know  what  could  be 
meant.  A  sufficient  reply  would  be :  "Surely,  we  saw  him  move 
the  glass."  If  I  insisted  that  I  wanted  evidence  that  the  drinker 
had  moved  the  glass,  my  interlocutor  might  begin  to  suspect 
the  situation  was  abnormal — for  this  would  be  one  way  of 
making  sense  of  my  demand.  Suppose  we  were  suddenly  to 
see  the  glass  of  beer  levitate  and  fly  like  a  homing  pigeon 
straight  to  the  drinker's  mouth!  Then  we  might  rub  our  eyes 
and  begin  to  wonder  whether  the  man  in  the  armchair  had 
really  moved  the  glass  the  first  time.  We  might  then  plausibly 
suspect  ourselves  in  some  magician's  establishment,  well 
stocked  with  trick  devices  for  making  objects  move  in  extraor- 
dinary ways.  This  would  be  a  fantastically  abnormal  situ- 
ation. In  describing  the  case  of  the  thirsty  drinker  I  wished  to 
present  a  situation  that  was  normal,  one  whose  description  was 
intended  to  exclude  monstrosities  and  miracle. 

I  was  therefore  taking  for  granted  that  the  person  con- 
cerned was  neither  hypnotized  nor  walking  in  his  sleep  nor 
obeying  a  neurotic  compulsion  to  reach  for  the  glass  nor  act- 
ing in  response  to  threats.  And  I  was  assuming  that  the  glass 
of  beer  was  an  ordinary  vessel,  having  no  concealed  magnet 
or  other  special  devices  and  subject  to  no  remote  physical  or 
mental  controls.  In  short,  I  was  taking  for  granted  that  the 
exemplary  situation  was  a  perfectly  familiar,  ordinary  case.  If 
a  situation  were  not  of  this  familiar  sort,  it  might  be  necessary 
to  investigate  and  find  out  whether  the  man  concerned  really 
had  made  something  happen. 

So  far,  I  have  been  contrasting  a  perfectly  clear  case  of 

Making  Something  Happen     /    33 

making  something  happen  with  cases  in  which  an  investiga- 
tion would  be  in  order.  The  latter  we  might  call  problematic 
cases.  A  second  kind  of  contrast  could  be  made  between  a 
perfectly  clear  case  and  a  borderline  case. 

Suppose  you  jogged  my  hand,  so  that  my  elbow  knocked 
against  the  glass  and  spilled  its  contents.  Did  /  spill  the  glass, 
or  did  you  in  fact  do  it?  Both  anwsers  are  plausible.  We  are 
inclined  to  say  something  like,  "I  spilled  the  beer  all  right,  but 
you  made  me  do  it,  so  really  you  spilled  it."  Here  the  presence 
of  the  qualification  "really"  in  "really  you  spilled  it"  is  a  sign 
that  criteria  for  the  use  of  the  expression  "making  something 
happen"  are  no  longer  precise  and  determinate.  We  would  not 
teach  a  child  what  "making  something  happen"  means  by  cit- 
ing this  kind  of  case  or  a  case  in  which  somebody's  involun- 
tary gesture  displaced  an  object.  Similarly,  we  would  not  teach 
somebody  the  meaning  of  "orange"  by  showing  color  patches 
that  most  of  us  should  hesitate  to  label  either  orange  or 

The  uncertainty  here  is  not  due  to  lack  of  information  and 
could  not  be  removed  by  any  empirical  investigation.  Uncer- 
tainty of  application  is  a  feature  of  our  uses  of  "orange"  and 
can  be  removed  only  by  stipulation.  Our  use  of  the  expression 
"making  something  happen"  is  infected  by  similar  uncertainty. 
Only  I  should  wish  to  deny  that  any  such  uncertainty  of  ap- 
plication is  to  be  found  in  the  clear  case  that  I  began  by 

Indeed,  if  anybody  were  to  show  genuine  hesitation  about 
using  the  expression  "making  something  happen"  in  the  situa- 
tion described,  that  would  be  evidence  that  he  did  not  really 
understand  that  expression.  If  I  were  teaching  a  foreigner  how 
to  use  that  English  expression,  a  test  of  my  success  would  be 
his  unhesitating  identification  of  the  exemplary  situation  as  a 
case  of  making  something  happen.  (Of  course,  he  must  also 
hesitate  in  borderhne  cases.)  Should  the  pupil  waver  in  the 
clear  case,  we  might  try  to  find  out  whether  he  suspected  some 
hidden  mechanism  or  trick  device,  i.e.,  whether  he  mistakenly 
took  the  situation  to  be  abnormal.  But  if  he  convinced  us  that 
he  fully  understood  our  description  of  the  familiar  case,  yet 
still  did  not  know  whether  to  say  that  something  had  been 
made  to  happen,  we  could  be  sure  that  efforts  to  teach  him 
the  uses  of  the  English  expression  had  not  yet  succeeded. 

I  have  said  that  the  case  of  the  thirsty  drinker  is  a  perfectly 
clear  one  of  making  something  happen,  leaving  no  room  for 
further  empirical  investigation — a  case  neither  "problematic" 

34    /    Detenninism  and  Freedom 

nor  "borderline."  I  want  to  add  now  that  the  episode  is  also  a 
paradigm  for  application  of  the  phrase  "making  something 
happen."  That  it  is  a  paradigm  is  closely  connected  with  its 
being  a  perfectly  clear  case;  yet  to  call  it  a  "paradigm"  is  to 
say  something  new. 

Suppose  we  are  faced  with  something  that  is  not  a  clear 
case  of  making  something  happen,  and  wish  to  decide  whether 
or  not  to  apply  the  expression.  A  natural  recourse  would  be 
to  compare  the  doubtful  case  with  some  perfectly  clear  case, 
with  a  view  to  finding  sufficient  similarity  or  dissimilarity  to 
arrive  at  a  correct  decision.  By  treating  the  clear  case  as  a 
standard  we  can  base  our  decision  to  use  or  withhold  the  ex- 
pression upon  reasons:  we  appeal  to  the  clear  case  to  resolve 
doubt.  It  follows,  therefore,  that  no  reason  can  be  given  why 
the  clear  case  itself  should  bear  the  identifying  label  in  ques- 
tion. There  is  nothing  besides  itself  to  which  the  clear  case 
can  be  compared — nothing  else  to  serve  as  a  standard.  The 
absurdity  of  asking  that  reasons  be  given  for  using  the  clear 
case  as  a  standard  would  be  just  like  that  of  trying  to  give 
reasons  why  the  standard  meter  rod  is  counted  as  one  meter 
in  length,  or  a  standard  color  sample  is  accepted  as  "red." 
Should  someone  demand  reasons  in  defense  of  calling  my 
exemplary  instance  a  case  of  making  something  happen,  the 
best  I  could  do  by  way  of  reply  would  be  to  say:  "That's  what 
I  call  'making  something  happen.'  "  Now  here  I  am  not  offer- 
ing a  genuine  reason,  but  repudiating  the  demand  for  a  rea- 
son. The  retort  "That's  what  I  call  'making  something  hap- 
pen' "  is  a  way  of  showing  how  I  use  the  expression.  In  mak- 
ing that  retort  I  show  that  I  treat  the  instance  as  a  paradigm. 
But  showing  is  not  arguing,  and  brandishing  a  paradigm  is  not 
offering  a  reason. 

The  case  of  the  thirsty  drinker  differs  from  that  of  the 
meter  rod  in  one  important  respect.  The  expression  "one  meter 
long"  is  formally  defined  in  terms  of  a  standard  measure, 
so  that  those  who  understand  how  the  expression  is  used  know 
that  a  dispute  about  the  correctness  of  any  attribution  of  met- 
ric length  would  ultimately  have  to  be  resolved  by  appeal  to 
a  known  and  identifiable  standard  of  comparison.  But  there  is 
no  formal  definition  of  "making  something  happen,"  and  of 
course  no  permanent  and  identifiable  situations  to  serve  as 
standards  of  comparison.  We  have  a  wide  range  of  choice  in 
exhibiting  "perfectly  clear  cases,"  and  they  are  not  preserved 
in  official  bureaus  of  standards.  Nevertheless,  we  do  appeal  to 
them  in  case  of  doubt— our  choice  of  just  those  situations  as 

Making  Something  Happen     /    35 

acceptable  standards  being  a  feature  of  our  use  of  the  expres- 
sion in  question.  Instead  of  the  unique  arbiter,  we  have,  as  it 
were,  a  reserve  of  available  judges,  any  of  which  indifferently 
can  serve  to  remind  us  of  our  linguistic  conventions.  Pressed 
to  give  reasons,  we  eventually  stop  at  situations  of  which  we 
can  say  no  more  than,  "That's  what  I  call  such-and-such."  Our 
choice  of  halting  places  shows  which  instances  we  in  fact  treat 
as  paradigms.  In  calling  my  exemplary  situation  a  paradigm 
for  the  use  of  the  expression  "making  something  happen," 
therefore,  I  am  claiming  that  it  is  useful  as  a  standard  for  the 
correctness  of  application  of  the  expression  in  question. 

Paradigm  cases  also  serve  as  standards  of  reference  when 
we  pass  from  primitive  uses  of  an  expression  to  other  uses 
derived  by  resemblance,  analogy,  and  metaphorical  extension. 
Uses  of  "making  something  happen"  and  cognate  expressions 
are  strikingly  various;  yet  the  paradigm  helps  to  illuminate  all 
such  uses.  The  exemplary  instance,  or  sufficiently  similar  alter- 
natives, functions  as  a  prototype  for  the  derivative  uses  of 
"making  something  happen."  We  refer  to  it  in  testing  the 
plausibility  of  analogy  and  metaphor. 

As  we  pass  from  the  homespun  language  of  "making  some- 
thing happen"  to  the  more  sophisticated  language  of  "cause" 
and  "effect,"  the  influence  of  the  paradigm  remains  powerful. 
We  continue  to  model  descriptions  of  cases  remote  from  the 
prototypes  on  the  simpler  primitive  cases,  often  by  using 
metaphors  literally  applicable  only  to  those  clear  cases.  In 
order  to  understand  clearly  what  we  mean  by  "cause"  and 
"effect"  we  must  labor  to  understand  what  we  mean  by  the 
precausal  language  in  which  the  more  sophisticated  vocabulary 
is  embedded. 

If  my  exemplary  situation  is  a  clear  case  (a  paradigm,  a 
prototype)  of  making  something  happen,  it  follows  that  it 
would  be  nonsensical  to  speak  of  there  being  any  possible 
doubt  whether  something  was  made  to  happen.  This  remains 
true,  no  matter  how  much  the  original  description  of  the  situ- 
ation might  be  augmented  or  elaborated  by  scientific  explana- 
tion, provided  only  that  the  additional  information  did  not 
conflict  with  the  original  assumption  of  "normality."  A  scien- 
tist might  explain  why  the  pressure  of  the  fingers  required  the 
glass  to  change  position  without  slipping  through  the  hand; 
another  scientist  mighit  offer  elaborate  explanations  of  the 
physiology  of  thirst;  a  psychologist  might  connect  your  pres- 
ent thirst  with  childhood  deprivation.  But  such  accounts,  in- 
formative as  they  might  be,  would  have  no  tendency  to  dis- 

36    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

credit  the  correctness  of  the  use  of  the  expression  "making 
something  happen."  They  could  not  do  so,  because  the  de- 
scription of  the  paradigm  case  is  complete.  If  the  description 
left  gaps  to  be  filled  by  scientific  data  as  yet  unknown,  none  of 
us  would  be  able  to  use  the  expression  "making  something 
happen"  correctly.  The  expression  would  be  a  blank  check 
drawn  on  an  uncertain  future. 

My  chief  contention,  so  far,  is  the  commonplace  one  that 
it  is  perfectly  certain  that  persons  do  sometimes  make  some- 
thing happen.  It  might  be  unnecessary  to  insist  on  anything 
so  obvious,  had  not  philosophers  sometimes  claimed  to  have 
arguments  to  show  that  it  is  logically  impossible  for  anything 
to  be  a  cause,  since  the  notion  of  a  cause  is  self-contradictory. 
Now,  to  make  something  happen  is  to  cause  something  to 
happen.  It  is  certain  therefore  that  the  notion  of  a  cause  is 
not  self-contradictory. 


Once  we  are  satisfied  that  we  have  identified  and  sufficiently 
described  a  paradigm  for  the  use  of  a  given  expression,  we  can 
proceed  to  look  for  features  and  criteria  of  application.  That 
is  to  say,  we  can  ask,  "What  is  it  about  this  clear  case  that  we 
treat  as  relevant  in  using  it  as  a  standard  of  comparison?" 
Sometimes  the  search  for  criteria  leads  nowhere:  to  the  ques- 
tion, "What  is  it  about  this  clear  case  of  red  that  makes  us  call 
it  'red'?"  there  is  no  answer.  But  sometimes  a  demand  for  cri- 
teria can  be  met.  If  the  question  is  raised  about  our  paradigm 
case  of  making  something  happen,  it  can  elicit  a  set  of  rele- 
vant features,  some  trite  and  uninteresting,  but  others  surpris- 
ingly at  variance  with  accepted  analyses  of  causation.  I  shall 
list  some  of  these  features  and  comment  on  a  few  of  them.  In 
order  to  save  time,  I  shall  refer  to  the  person  who  moved  the 
glass  as  "P."  I  shall  call  the  object  moved  "O,"  its  motion 
"M,"  and  the  action  performed  by  the  agent  "A." 

The  following  assertions  about  the  episode  seem  to  me 
plainly  true: 

1  What  happened  was  made  to  happen  by  P. 

2  What  he  made  happen  was  a  motion  of  O  (i.e.,  M). 

3  P  made  this  happen  by  doing  something  (moved  his 
hand  to  O,  clasped  it,  and  brought  it  back  to  him). 

4  In  doing  A,  P  was  acting  freely  (was  not  in  any  way 
being  forced  or  constrained  to  do  A). 

Making  Something  Happen     /    37 

5  A  occurred  throughout  the  time  that  M  was  occur- 

6  M  (the  motion  of  O)  would  not  have  occurred  unless 
A  had  occurred. 

7  When  A  occurred,  M  had  to  occur. 

If  we  used  the  accepted  terminology  of  discussions  of  cau- 
sation, we  could  roughly  summarize  the  foregoing  seven 
points  by  saying  that  the  cause  was  a  free  act  of  a  person,  the 
effect  was  a  motion  of  an  inanimate  object,  the  cause  and 
effect  were  cotemporal  (operative  through  the  same  time 
interval),  and  the  effect  was  a  necessary  consequence.  (We 
might  add  that  the  cause  and  effect  were  spatially  contiguous, 
in  a  way  too  obvious  to  detail.) 

I  shall  now  comment  on  some  of  these  points. 

The  agent  acted  freely.  The  contrast  to  be  made  here  is 
with  forced  or  constrained  action;  and,  again,  with  action  as 
an  intermediary.  If  P  had  been  compelled  by  physical  coer- 
cion or  by  threats,  we  should  confidently  say  he  had  not  acted 
freely;  there  might  be  more  hesitation  about  saying  the  same 
if  he  had  acted  because  asked  to  do  so,  or  if  he  had  expected 
to  receive  some  reward,  or  had  some  other  ulterior  motive. 
But  neither  coercion  nor  inducement  was  present  in  our  para- 
digm case:  P  took  the  glass  because  he  "just  wanted  to."  If 
he  had  any  motive  at  all,  it  may  have  been  that  he  was  thirsty, 
but  he  might  equally  well  have  had  no  antecedent  and  sepa- 
rable thirst.  There  would  be  no  harm  in  saying  the  act  was  un- 
motivated— which  is  not  to  say  it  was  irrational  or  unintel- 
ligible. On  the  other  hand,  the  presence  in  other  cases  of  a 
distinct  and  separable  motive  prior  to  the  act  would  not  dis- 
qualify an  episode  as  a  clear  case  of  making  something  hap- 
pen. Neither  presence  nor  absence  of  a  separable  motive  func- 
tions as  a  clear-cut  criterion. 

It  may  provoke  surprise  and  an  accusation  of  anthropomor- 
phism that  the  presence  of  a  person  is  insisted  on  as  a  fea- 
ture of  the  paradigm.  But  the  insistence  is  necessary.  A  candid 
examination  of  causal  language  will  show  that  our  prototypes 
involve  persons.  Certainly  the  word  "make"  strongly  suggests 
a  maker;  and  we  find  it  not  at  all  unnatural  to  substitute 
"make"  for  "cause."  If  this  be  anthropomorphism,  we  must 
make  the  best  of  it. 

To  return  to  our  illustration.  Not  only  is  it  true  that  the 
agent  acted  freely:  we  are  entitled,  I  think,  to  add  that  the 
very  same  situation  is  a  clear  case  and  a  paradigm  for  acting 

38    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

freely.  This  means,  as  I  previously  explained,  that  it  would 
be  logically  absurd  to  demand  an  investigation  as  to  whether 
the  agent  acted  freely;  it  also  means  that  there  could  be  no 
doubt  that  he  had  acted  freely,  nor  any  further  reason  to  show 
that  he  had  so  acted. 

Now,  if  this  is  so,  it  follows  that  so  far  from  there  being  a 
radical  conflict  between  the  notion  of  causation  and  freedom, 
as  many  philosophers  have  insisted,  the  two  notions,  or  their 
informal  progenitors,  are  logically  inseparable.  Our  para- 
digmatic conception  of  causing  something  to  happen  is  a  con- 
ception of  somebody  freely  making  something  happen.  So 
anything  having  a  tendency  to  show  that  the  agent  was  not  act- 
ing freely,  but  responding  to  contraint,  duress,  or  ulterior  in- 
ducement, would  immediately  have  a  tendency  to  show  that  he 
was  not  the  cause  but  merely  an  instrument  or  an  intermediary 
between  the  true  cause  and  its  effects. 

It  also  follows  that  no  scientific  elaboration  of  the  anteced- 
ents of  the  paradigmatic  episodes  could  destroy  their  char- 
acter as  paradigms  of  acting  freely,  and  so  causing  something 
to  happen.  No  physiological  or  psychoanalytical  explanation 
of  the  unconscious  cause,  if  any,  of  P's  moving  O  can  have  the 
least  tendency  to  discredit  our  calling  his  act  a  case  of  freely 
making  something  happen.  Of  course  the  case  would  be 
altered  if  such  scientific  elaboration  led  us  to  view  his  act  as 
pathological,  but  this  outcome  was  excluded  by  our  descrip- 
tion of  the  paradigm. 

The  effective  action  lasted  throughout  the  motion  it  pro- 
duced. It  has  been  a  truism  for  writers  on  causation  that  the 
cause  must  precede  the  effect.  And  certainly  there  would  be 
a  logical  absurdity  in  supposing  that  the  cause  might  succeed 
its  effect.  But  our  paradigm  has  cause  and  effect  occurring 
together.  It  might  be  objected  that  the  initiating  action,  A, 
began  before  the  motion,  M,  it  produced.  But  it  would  be 
easy  to  define  the  action  as  lasting  for  exactly  the  same  period 
of  time  as  the  motion  generated;  we  must  therefore  allow  that 
sometimes  cause  and  effect  can  be  simultaneous  or  cotem- 
poral.  TTiis  will  not  render  the  causal  relation  symmetrical,  as 
might  be  feared;  the  desired  asymmetry  is  here  ensured  by 
the  fact  that  the  cause  is  a  free  action  while  the  effect  is  not 
an  action  at  all  but  the  motion  of  an  inanimate  body.  And 
when  one  person  acts  on  another,  so  that  one  action  is  con- 
tiguous and  cotemporal  with  another  action,  we  can  still  im- 
mediately identify  the  cause  as  that  action  of  the  two  that  was 
free.  If  John  pushes  James,  John  acs  freely,  but  James  doesn't; 

Making  Something  Happen     /    39 

and  conversely,  if  James  was  moving  of  his  own  free  will, 
John  didn't  push  him. 

Now  cotemporality  of  cause  and  effect  is  not  a  mere  peculi- 
arity of  "prescientific"  thinking;  it  is  a  commonplace  of  causal 
description  at  scientific  levels,  as  philosophers  have  occasion- 
ally noticed.  The  moon's  gravitational  pull  lasts  as  long  as  the 
tide  it  produces;  difference  of  temperature  registers  through- 
out the  period  that  thermometric  expansion  occurs;  a  catalyst 
continues  to  act  during  the  chemical  reaction  it  is  influencing; 
and  so  on,  for  any  number  of  similar  cases.  There  is  some 
reason  to  regard  the  principle  of  strict  priority  of  the  cause  as 
a  metaphysical  prejudice.  And,  like  other  metaphysical  preju- 
dices, it  can  be  opposed  by  equally  powerful  metaphysical 
prejudices  of  opposite  tendency. 

The  induced  motion  would  not  have  occurred  but  for  the 
action  that  produced  it.  As  it  stands,  this  formula  is  incorrect. 
It  is  untrue  to  say  the  glass  would  not  have  moved  as  it  did 
unless  P  had  made  it  do  so,  for  if  P  had  not  moved  it  some 
other  person  might  have  done  so.  What  we  mean,  of  course,  is 
that  the  glass  would  not  have  moved  by  itself:  that  is,  if  P  had 
not  performed  action  A,  or  some  other  action  resulting  in  O's 
moving,  the  glass  would  have  remained  stationary.  In  short, 
had  A  not  occurred,  the  glass  would  not  have  moved,  though 
all  other  features  of  the  setting  remained  unchanged.  One 
might  perhaps  say  that  A  is  conditionally  necessary  for  the 
occurrence  of  M.  Or  again:  the  occurrence  of  A  included 
some  of  the  necessary  conditions  for  M  to  occur. 

In  speaking  of  this  feature  of  the  paradigm  I  have  used  a 
"counterf actual."  I  said  that,  in  the  presence  of  certain  con- 
textual factors,  M  would  not  have  occurred  but  for  A 's  occur- 
rence. Alternatively:  if  A  had  not  occurred  (other  things  re- 
maining unchanged),  M  would  not  have  occurred.  Now  such 
a  statement  is  a  so-called  "counterfactual."  Some  contempo- 
rary philosophers  have  found  this  notion  troublesome — pos- 
sibly because  they  have  failed  to  explain  satisfactorily  how  a 
counterfactual  conditional  could  be  verified.  Yet  the  notion 
"would  not  have  happened  unless"  is  as  primitive  and  un- 
problematic  as  the  notion  "making  something  happen."  Both 
are  applicable  in  the  same  circumstances,  long  before  any 
question  o!"  scientific  terminology  arises.  There  are  accordingly 
relatively  direct  and  unsophisticated  ways  of  establishing  such 
a  claim  as:  The  glass  would  not  have  moved  unless  somebody 
had  moved  i:.  In  making  such  an  assertion  we  do,  in  fact, 
simply  rely  on  our  commonplace  knowledge  that  when  no- 

40    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

body  is  "doing  anything"  the  glass  stays  put,  and  that  when 
somebody  does  "do  something"  of  a  certain  sort  the  glass 
moves.  It  would,  however,  be  a  mistake  to  say  that  the  state- 
ment "The  glass  would  not  have  moved  by  itself"  had  the 
same  meaning  as  "Glasses  do  not  move  when  left  alone";  for 
the  two  statements  are  made  in  different  contexts  and  have 
different  uses,  even  though  the  procedure  of  verifying  them 
may  sometimes  be  identical. 

When  pushed,  the  glass  had  to  move.  Certainly  it  is  natural 
to  say  this,  and  there  must  be  some  sense  in  which  it  is  true. 
No  doubt  m3^hology  plays  a  part:  there  is  a  discernible  in- 
clination to  think  of  the  moving  object  as  animate — a  mani- 
kin, helpless  in  our  grasp,  "having  no  choice"  but  to  move.  But 
good  sense  remains  when  mythology  has  been  discarded.  We 
need  only  remind  ourselves  of  the  circumstances  in  which  we 
say  that  an  object  acted  on  by  an  external  force  does  not  have 
to  move.  We  say  so  when  the  given  force  is  insufficient  to  pro- 
duce the  desired  motion.  If  I  push  my  cat  gently,  Hodge  may 
or  may  not  move,  though  if  he  does  I  shall  say  he  did  because 
I  pushed  him;  but  if  I  push  hard  enough,  Hodge  has  to  move. 
Again,  a  penny  tossed  into  the  air  has  to  come  down  again, 
but  it  does  not  have  to  come  down  tails.  Here  and  elsewhere, 
the  relevant  contrast  is  between  what  sometimes  happens  and 
what  invariably  happens.  To  generalize:  we  say  that  M  had 
to  happen  when  A  happened,  only  if  M  would  always  ensue, 
given  an  unchanged  setting  and  the  same  concomitant.  Using 
a  phrase  parallel  to  one  introduced  earlier,  we  might  call  A 
conditionally  sufficient  for  M.  Alternatively,  we  might  say  that 
A  is  a  part  of  a  certain  sufficient  condition  for  the  occurrence 
of  M. 

In  this  cursory  examination  of  some  features  of  a  paradigm 
of  making  something  happen,  I  have  had  little  occasion  to 
refer  to  any  "constant  conjunction"  between  producing  action 
and  induced  motion.  The  omission  has  been  deliberate.  The 
assertion  "P  made  M  happen  by  doing  A"  does  n^t  mean  the 
same  as  "If  P  were  to  repeat  actions  sufficiently  like  A,  then, 
other  things  being  equal,  motions  sufficiently  like  M  would  in- 
variably ensue."  If  the  analysis  were  correct,  the  original 
causal  statement  would  include  as  part  of  its  meaning  ^ 
generalization  whose  verification  would  need  repeated  ob- 
servation and  an  induction  upon  an  indefinite  number  of 
situations  resembling  the  original  situation.  The  orginal  state- 
ment ("P  made  something  happen,  etc.")  is  so  far  from  being 
verifiable  by  inspection  that  a  lengthy  inquiry  would  be  needed 


Making  Something  Happen     /    41 

to  establish  its  truth.  (It  is  as  if  we  had  to  perform  a  long 
inductive  inquiry  into  the  behavior  of  meter  rods  before  we 
could  use  a  given  meter  rod  to  measure  a  given  object.)  But 
I  think  the  truth  of  the  matter  is  much  simpler:  in  order  to  be 
sure  that  P  made  O  move,  we  need  only  look.  The  verifying 
situation  is  right  before  our  eyes.  To  establish  conclusively 
that  P  did  make  O  move,  we  need  only  be  sure  that  P  did  do 
such-and-such,  and  that  O  was  moving  thus-and-thus  mean- 

I  do  not  say  we  should  be  right  in  maintaining  that  A  made 
M  happen  whenever  an  action  and  a  cotemporal  motion  are 
contiguous.  In  using  the  language  of  "making  something  hap- 
pen" we  take  for  granted  that  the  episode  in  view  has  a  special 
and  appropriate  character.  Should  we  be  challenged  to  specify 
these  conditions  in  full  detail,  we  should  eventually  have  to 
talk  about  constant  conjunctions;  and  in  deciding  in  unusual, 
unfamiliar,  or  abnormal  settings  whether  the  use  of  causal 
language  is  appropriate,  prolonged  inductive  investigations 
might  be  needed.  But  such  investigation  would  establish  the 
presuppositions  for  the  proper  use  of  causal  language,  not  the 
meaning  of  the  assertions  made  by  means  of  such  language. 

Consider  the  following  analogy:  If  I  say,  "Jones  just  made 
the  move  'pawn  to  king  four,'  "  a  full  and  sufficient  verifica- 
tion of  my  assertion  is  that  Jones  shifted  a  characteristically 
shaped  piece  of  wood  from  a  certain  place  on  a  chessboard 
to  another  place.  Yet  this  is  only  part  of  the  story.  I  would 
not  say  that  Jones  had  made  the  move  if  he  knew  nothing  of 
the  game  and  was  merely  moving  the  piece  at  random;  nor 
would  I  say  so  if  he  knew  how  to  play  chess  but  was  amusing 
himself  by  replaying  some  master's  game — or  was  composing 
a  chess  problem.  In  using  the  language  of  chess  I  take  for 
granted  the  institution  of  chess-playing  and  a  host  of  related 
facts.  Before  I  can  teach  anybody  how  to  use  the  language  of 
chess,  I  must  acquaint  him  with  this  background  of  presup- 
positions. But  once  the  background  has  been  established,  I  do 
not  refer  to  it  each  time  I  announce  somebody's  move. 

There  is  a  general  background  also  for  talking  about  "mak- 
ing things  happen."  The  subject  could  not  be  dealt  with 
properly  by  anybody  ignorant  of  a  host  of  familiar  facts 
about  motions  of  human  bodies,  obstructions  and  resistances 
offered  by  other  bodies,  the  dependable  behavior  of  relatively 
permanent  solid  objects,  and  so  on.  But  when  we  say,  "Jones 
moved  the  glass,"  we  do  not  refer  to  these  uniformities  or  to 
the  remainder  of  the  background  of  presuppositions.  When  we 

42    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

say,  "Jones  moved  the  glass,"  we  draw  a  line  around  an  epi- 
sode whose  relevant  features  are  directly  observable.  An  in- 
formal causal  statement  is  a  straightforward  report.  Stripped 
of  its  background  of  presupposition,  it  would  have  the  simple 
form,  "While  P  did  this,  that  happened." 

There  is  a  sense,  therefore,  in  which  "P  made  M  happen  by 
doing  A"  can  be  said  to  mean  the  same  as  "While  P  did  A,  M 
happened" — the  sense  in  which  both  statements  would  be  veri- 
fied by  the  same  state  of  affairs.  But  there  is  also  an  important 
sense  in  which  the  two  are  strikingly  different — because  they 
imply  different  presuppositions  and  are  connected  with  di- 
verse linguistic  practices. 

A  full  account  of  the  linguistic  practices  connected  with  the 
vocabulary  of  "making  something  happen"  would  be  lengthy 
and  complicated.  One  obvious  connection  is  with  the  language 
of  imperatives.  When  we  order  somebody  to  do  something,  we 
envisage  his  making  something  happen.  If  our  language  con- 
tained no  provision  for  isolating  causal  episodes,  we  could 
issue  no  orders,  give  no  commands.  And  the  same  could  be 
said  for  recipes,  plans  of  operation,  and  other  features  of 
linguistic  transaction.  All  that  part  of  our  life  concerned  with 
getting  things  done,  or  with  anticipating  and  controlling  the 
consequences  of  our  actions,  uses  the  language  of  "making 
things  happen"  and  is  inconceivable  without  it. 

Another  connection  is  with  moral  language.  To  say  that 
somebody  made  M  happen  is  to  hold  him  responsible  for  it;  it 
can  be  a  prelude  to  the  assignment  of  praise  or  blame,  punish- 
ment or  reward.  And  the  further  connections  with  ethical 
practices  are  equally  obvious.  To  state  the  point  negatively:  a 
language  containing  no  provision  for  linking  persons  with 
events  for  whose  occurrence  they  were  held  responsible  would 
be  one  in  which  moral  judgments  as  we  now  know  them 
would  be  impossible. 


So  far  I  have  been  considering  primitive  cases  of  making 
something  happen.  But  we  also  talk  about  "making  something 
happen"  in  an  enormous  variety  of  derivative  situations.  Some 
of  the  ways  in  which  these  related  uses  are  connected  with  the 
paradigm  are  fairly  obvious.  I  have  been  confining  myself  to 
cases  where  some  person  causes  a  motion.  But  it  is  natural  to 
extend  the  language  to  cases  where  the  agent  produces  a  ces- 
sation of  motion,  i.e.,  where  the  motion  would  not  have  ceased 

Making  Something  Happen     /    43 

but  for  the  person's  intervention.  Or,  again,  it  is  equally 
natural  to  talk  of  "making  something  happen"  when  what  is 
produced  is  a  qualitative  change.  And  so  we  pass,  by  easy 
transitions,  from  the  material  realm  to  that  of  the  affections 
and  sentiments.  We  talk  of  making  somebody  laugh,  of  mak- 
ing somebody  reconsider,  or  making  somebody  happy — with- 
out always  realizing  how  far  we  have  strayed  from  the 

Criteria  for  the  use  of  causal  language  can  also  shift  in 
other  ways.  For  instance,  we  commonly  speak  of  intermedi- 
aries as  causes.  If  I  make  a  billiard  ball  move  in  such  a  way 
as  to  set  another  in  motion,  I  can  think  of  the  impinging  bil- 
liard ball  as  the  causal  agent.  Here  we  discard  the  criterion  of 
the  human  agent,  allowing  the  motion  of  an  inanimate  object 
to  count  as  that  which  "makes  something  happen."  It  is  easiest 
to  make  this  type  of  transition  when  the  new  field  of  applica- 
tion most  plainly  resembles  the  original  paradigm.  We  freely 
attribute  causal  efficiency  when  some  motion  can  be  made  to 
look  like  the  motion  of  a  human  body.  So  we  find  no  difficulty 
in  conceiving  of  "forces"  that  push  or  pull,  bend,  or  squeeze, 
but  experience  extreme  discomfort  in  trying  to  imagine  "ac- 
tion at  a  distance."  The  idea  of  a  body  "impressing"  an  ex- 
ternal force  is  altogether  natural,  but  we  cannot  understand 
how  one  body  can  "attract"  another  without  being  joined  to  it 
by  an  unbroken  chain  of  physical  intermediaries. 

Anybody  with  a  logician's  desire  for  clear-cut  distinctions 
may  well  be  exasperated  by  the  lack  of  systematic  principle 
in  these  patterns  of  analogical  and  metaphorical  extensions 
of  causal  language.  A  search  for  a  common  denominator  in 
this  kaleidoscope  of  applications  leads  at  best  to  "universal 
conjunction"  or  the  even  vaguer  notion  of  "predictability."  But 
such  abstract  and  simplified  formulas  fail  to  do  justice  to  the 
actual  uses  of  "cause"  and  its  cognates.  It  would  be  more  to 
the  point  to  ask  what  role  the  language  of  causation  plays — to 
inquire  into  the  purposes  served  by  passing  from  the  home- 
spun language  of  "making  things  happen"  to  the  more  abstract 
language  of  causation. 

A  partial  answer  might  be  that  the  language  of  causation 
seems  most  fitting  when  we  are  concerned  with  the  effective 
production,  prevention,  or  modification  of  events.  Roughly 
speaking,  an  event  X  is  most  plainly  eligible  as  a  possible 
cause  of  another  event  Y,  if  we  can  manipulate  X  in  such  a 
way  as  to  modify  Y.  A  cause  is  something  that  we  can  or 
might  be  able  to  control.  But  we  invoke  causes  also  when  we 

44    /    Determinisni  and  Freedom 

are  interested  in  explaining  something  rather  than  controlling 
it.  And  as  our  accepted  patterns  of  explanation  become  more 
complex,  our  notion  of  a  cause  becomes  correspondingly  more 
elusive,  until  it  threatens  to  vanish  altogether  into  the  abstract 
conception  of  a  law,  a  parameter,  a  boundary  condition,  or 
some  combination  of  all  of  these.  As  scientific  modes  of  in- 
vestigation develop,  the  language  of  cause  tends  to  its  own 

But  this  is  not  a  special  quirk  or  weakness  of  the  language 
of  causation.  It  happens  regularly  and  characteristically  in  the 
transition  from  ordinary  language  to  scientific  terminology. 
Dominating  my  discussion  throughout  has  been  the  notion 
that  the  vocabulary  of  "cause"  and  its  informal  progenitors  is 
indigenous  to  ordinary  language — the  language  of  practical 
affairs  and  common-sense  observation  or  understanding.  The 
vocabulary  of  causation  can  be  adapted  to  a  scientific  context, 
jbut  the  sophistication  it  suffers  proves  ultimately  fatal.  Scien- 
jtific  insight  is  the  death  of  causal  conceptions.  But  this  does 
not  mean  there  is  anything  amiss  with  the  language  of  causa- 
tion when  employed  in  its  proper  settings.  To  say  the  opposite 
would  be  as  implausible  as  to  hold  that  the  supersession  of 
words  like  "hot"  and  "cold"  in  favor  of  the  scientific  termi- 
nology of  thermometry  shows  that  there  is  something  wrong, 
or  in  need  of  correction,  in  the  prescientific  uses  of  thermal 


I  have  been  arguing  that  "cause"  is  an  essentially  schematic 
word,  tied  to  certain  more  or  less  stable  criteria  of  application, 
but  permitting  wide  variation  of  specific  determination  accord- 
ing to  context  and  the  purposes  of  investigation.  Now,  if  this 
is  so,  any  attempt  to  state  a  "universal  law  of  causation"  must 
prove  futile.  To  anybody  who  insists  that  "nothing  happens 
without  a  suflBcient  cause"  we  are  entitled  to  retort  with  the 
question,  "What  do  you  mean  by  'cause'?"  It  is  safe  to  predict 
that  the  only  answer  forthcoming  will  contain  such  schematic 
words  as  "event,"  "law,"  and  "prediction."  These,  too,  are 
words  capable  of  indefinite  further  determination  according 
to  circumstances — and  they  are  none  the  worse  for  that.  But 
universal  statements  containing  schematic  words  have  no 
place  in  rational  argument.  The  fatal  defect  of  determinism  is 
its  protean  capacity  to  elude  refutation — by  the  same  token, 
its  informative  content  is  negligible.  Whatever  virtues  it  may 
have  in  encouraging  scientists  to  search  for  comprehensive 

Making  Something  Happen     /    45 

laws  and  theories,  there  can  be  no  rational  dispute  about  its 
truth  value.  Many  of  the  traditional  problems  of  causation 
disappear  when  we  become  sufficiently  clear  about  what  we 
mean  by  "cause"  and  remind  ourselves  once  more  of  what  a 
peculiar,  unsystematic,  and  erratic  notion  it  is. 

Chapter  3 

Petermiriism  and   Noveify 

William  Barrett,  New  York  University 

Most  of  what  I  shall  have  to  say  in  this  comment  will  be 
directed  at  Professor  Blanshard's  paper.  This  is  not  to  be  taken 
as  a  judgment  on  the  relative  merits  of  the  two  foregoing 
papers.  Professor  Black  has  suggested  a  very  interesting  para- 
digm by  which  to  explore  the  question  of  determinism,  and  it 
would  be  fruitful  to  examine  the  question  wholly  within  the 
framework  he  sets.  But  since  in  most  matters  I  am,  I  think,  in 
agreement  with  him,  and  since  the  function  of  the  commen- 
tator seems  to  be  not  so  much  to  applaud  in  agreement  as  to 
join  battle  in  debate,  I  shall  be  concerned  principally  with 
Professor  Blanshard's  contribution. 

Professor  Blanshard  has  presented  an  admirably  clear,  can- 
did, and  persuasive  paper  in  defense  of  the  determinist  posi- 
tion. On  a  subject  like  this,  which  has  been  so  long  discussed 
that  nothing  new  is  likely  to  be  said,  it  is  good  to  get  a  paper 
that  performs  a  real  act  of  simplification,  that  clears  the 
ground  of  clutter,  and  so  suggests  the  possibility  of  taking  up 
the  old  beat-up  problem  with  some  degree  of  freshness. 

Let  us  begin  on  the  prephilosophical  level  of  everyday  life. 
Determinism  is  a  position  repugnant  to  most  people.  Why  is 
this?  The  reasons.  Professor  Blanshard  says,  are  our  stub- 
born feeling  of  freedom  and  the  belief  that  "determinism 
would  make  nonsense  of  moral  responsibility."  Here  he  omits, 
I  think,  one  of  the  main  motives  in  the  rebellion  against  de- 
terminism, not  only  on  the  part  of  ordinary  people  but  also 
of  those  modern  philosophers  who  have  been  most  vigorously 
opposed  to  the  determinist  position:  namely,  the  desire  for 
freshness,  novelty,  genuine  creation — in  short,  an  open  rather 
than  a  closed  universe.  Such  is  the  main  impulse  in  the  criti- 
cism of  determinism  by  philosophers  hke  Peirce,  James, 
Bergson,  Whitehead,  and  Dewey. 

It  is  worth  while  in  this  connection  to  recall  the  story  by 
the  Italian  poet  Leopardi  about  the  Almanac  Vendor.  The 
vendor  appears  under  a  window  hawking  his  wares,  crying 


Determinism  and  Novelty    /    47 

out  that  he  has  good  predictions  to  sell  for  the  year.  A  man 
leans  out  of  the  window  and  engages  him  in  conversation: 
How  long  has  the  vendor  been  selling  almanacs  and  making 
this  same  cry?  "Twenty  years,  Excellency."  And  if  he  had  the 
chance  of  living  over  any  of  those  years?  "No,  Excellency, 
certainly  not;  not  for  all  the  money  in  the  world."  Here  the 
man  who  sells  predictions  would  not  care,  as  a  human  being, 
to  have  those  predictions  true  in  detail.  The  point  of  the  story 
is  that  even  a  good  year — had  we  to  live  it  over  again  with 
every  detail  fixed  beforehand — would  stifle  us  with  boredom: 
our  food  would  taste  dull  to  our  palate,  our  most  spontaneous 
talk  sound  as  uninspired  as  the  playback  of  a  tape-recorded 
conversation,  and  our  words  of  love  would  sound  hollow  be- 
cause we  should  know  beforehand  the  precise  moment  of 
fatigue  when  they  would  expire. 

For  my  own  part,  I  find  the  traditional  concepts  of  free 
will  extremely  tenuous  and  rarefied  in  the  face  of  my  experi- 
ence of  people  and  the  concrete  situations  of  life,  and  from 
that  point  of  view  I  could  swallow  determinism  without  too 
much  trouble.  Indeed,  on  the  prephilosophical  level  my  con- 
viction tends  rather  toward  the  old  primitive  notion  of  fate, 
Moira,  of  Homer  and  the  tragic  poets;  but  Homeric  Moira  is 
a  very  different  thing  from  Newtonian  or  neo-Newtonian  de- 
terminism, and  my  recoil  from  the  latter  is  due  to  its  dreary 
prospect  of  a  stale  and  routine  world  from  which  surprise  and 
genuine  novelty  may  ultimately  be  banished. 

But  to  come  now  to  the  philosophical  level.  Here,  too,  de- 
terminism seems  to  me  to  make  very  good  sense,  for  it  isolates 
the  central  issue:  namely,  the  question  of  the  predictability 
of  phenomena,  and  moreover  predictability  in  detail.  For 
determinism  predictability  in  general  is  not  enough:  it  has  to 
assert  (and  prove,  if  it  can)  predictability  down  to  the  last 
detail — ^lock,  stock,  and  barrel,  and  even  down  to  the  last  , 
scratch  on  the  barrel.  Anything  less  than  this,  and  the  thesis  \ 
I  of  determinism  must  cnmible.  Determinism  cannot  afford 
to  leave  any  loose  ends  lying  around.  Small  and  great  are 
inextricably  linked  in  the  happenings  of  nature  and  history; 
and  unpredictable  detail  might  trigger  an  enormous  explosion, 
and  empires  and  battles  do  sometimes  hang  on  a  straw. 

Professor  Blanshard  presents  a  very  much  simplified 
schema  for  examining  the  determinist  assertion:  "Given  A,  B 
must  occur."  Such  simplification  allows  us  to  cut  to  the  core 
of  the  matter.  Professor  Blanshard  generously  waives  the 
[question  of  what  "must"  means  here,  and  proposes  that  we 

48    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

can  go  on  with  the  discussion  without  settling  it.  I  am  sorry 
I  cannot  quite  accept  his  generosity.  So  far  as  I  can  see,  the 
empirical  evidence  for  determinism  lies  in  the  fact  that  some 
phenomena  can  be  predicted,  and  the  "must"  in  Professor 
Blanshard's  schema  therefore  has  to  be  understood  in  con- 
nection with  predictability.  Determinism  is  surely  not  a  priori; 
not  only  is  its  denial  conceivable  by  us,  but  it  has  actually 
been  proposed  as  sober  theory  by  scientists.  Such  scientific 
proposals  may,  in  the  end,  turn  out  to  be  unwarranted  by  the 
facts,  but  the  mere  fact  that  they  are  seriously  made  and 
utilized  for  purposes  of  explanation  should  suffice  to  show 
that  determinism  itself  is  not  founded  on  any  a  priori  neces- 
sity. My  discussion  will  therefore  present  an  altogether  differ- 
1  ent  intellectual  perspective  from  Professor  Blanshard's,  for  it 
j  will  turn  centrally  on  the  notion  of  predictability. 

With  the  problem  thus  shifted,  its  nature  changes  consid- 
erably. We  should  be  engaged  in  a  painstaking  examination 
of  those  regions  of  experience  where  we  have  established  pre- 
dictability, of  the  regions  where  we  have  not,  and  of  the  likeli- 
hood of  our  extending  predictability  to  these  latter  regions.  A 
good  deal  of  very  antiquated  dialectic  would  promptly  fall  by 
the  wayside.  This  may  be  laying  very  rough  hands  on  deter- 
minism, but  it  has  been  dealing  so  long  in  the  I.O.U.'s  and 
promissory  notes  of  hypotheticals — //  all  conditions  are  given 
(when  they  so  obviously  can't  be);  //  we  knew  everything 
(when  we  so  obviously  never  shall),  etc.,  etc. — that  at  long 
last  we  may  be  pardoned  for  demanding  cash  or  cutting  off 
trade.  Recasting  the  problem  thus,  we  must  also  attempt  to 
make  the  deterministic  schema  more  specific  by  applying  it  to 
some  definite  models  (in  the  mathematical  sense  of  this  last 
term).  When  Professor  Blanshard  lays  down  as  the  schema  of 
determinism  "Given  A,  B  must  occur"  I  am  unclear  about  his 
meaning,  not  only  because  of  the  ambiguity  of  "must"  but 
because  I  am  imsure  of  the  range  of  values  to  which  A  and  B 
must  apply.  Suppose  we  substitute  for  A  and  B  the  following: 
Given  the  nineteenth  century,  the  twentieth  century  must  oc- 
cur— that  is,  exactly  in  the  form  it  does,  down  to  the  last 
detail;  or:  Given  the  first  millennium  of  the  Christian  period, 
the  second  must  follow  exactly  as  it  did.  Such  theses  are,  to 
my  mind,  too  staggeringly  vast  to  prove  or  disprove.  Clearly 
some  contraction  of  the  range  of  variables  is  called  for. 

Accordingly,  I  should  like  to  make  some  speculations  about 
the  question  of  predictability  in  connection  with  four  specific 
fields:    (1)   mathematics;   (2)    physics;   (3)    intellectual  and 

Detenninism  and  Novelty     /    49 

artistic  creation;  (4)  history,  in  the  sense  of  individual  and 
relatively  circumscribable  events  in  time.  Obviously  within  the 
scope  of  these  brief  remarks  I  can  hope  only  to  indicate,  at 
most,  certain  issues  that  have  a  different  weight  for  me  and 
for  Professor  Blanshard,  or  at  least  lead  my  mind  in  a  differ- 
ent direction  from  his. 

1,  Mathematics.  Godel,  as  is  well  known,  has  established 
the  incompleteness  of  mathematics.  What  this  means,  in  more 
human  and  concrete  terms,  is  that  mathematicians,  as  long  as 
they  remain  creative,  will  always  be  exposed  to  the  possibility 
of  unpredictable  surprises.  Of  Godel's  result  itself,  a  mathe- 
matician of  my  acquaintance  remarked:  "Mathematicians 
didn't  foresee  any  result  like  that.  In  fact,  if  you  had  asked 
them  beforehand,  they  would  have  said  that  just  the  opposite 
would  turn  out  to  be  the  case."  Of  course,  there  is  the  distinc- 
tion between  the  psychological  and  the  logical,  and  the  sur- 
prises, after  we  have  understood  them,  turn  out  to  be  logically 
inevitable.  To  be  sure,  to  be  sure;  but  it  may  be  questioned 
whether  from  a  human  and  practical  point  of  view  this  will 
make  much  difference,  since  mathematicians,  as  a  conse- 
quence of  Godel's  discovery,  will  have  to  face  2,500  years 
from  now  a  possibility  of  shock  and  surprise  like  that  experi- 
enced by  the  Pythagorean  brotherhood  at  the  discovery  of 
irrationals — which,  according  to  one  tradition,  cost  the  dis- 
coverer his  life  at  the  hands  of  the  outraged  brotherhood. 

The  point  becomes  stronger  if  we  consider  Godel's  result  a 
little  more  specifically.  A  Godel  formula  is  a  perfectly  con- 
structible  formula  in  elementary  arithmetic;  syntactically  in- 
terpreted, this  formula  says  that  it  itself  is  not  provable.  But 
it  is  not  impossible — and  this,  thanks  to  Godel  himself — that 
a  worker  in  number  theory,  operating  with  minimal  formali- 
zation and  maximal  use  of  the  devices  of  analysis,  as  is  usually 
done,  and  not  at  all  following  the  syntactical  model,  might 
come  up  with  a  demonstration,  a  long  chain  of  formulas,  at 
the  end  of  which  would  be  a  Godel  formula.  Not  only  is  it 
unpredictable  that  this  will  not  occur;  it  is  unpredictable  how, 
when,  and  where  it  will  occur,  if  it  does — for  if  all  this  were 
predictable,  we  should  have  produced  the  proof  before  it  was 
produced.  What  would  have  happened  here  would  be  merely 
that  a  contradiction  would  have  turned  up  in  classical  mathe- 
matics. Such  a  contradiction,  of  course,  would  not  be  catas- 
trophic; mathematics,  like  life  itself,  thrives  on  contradiction 
and  is  fructified  thereby;  mathematicians  would  simply  get 
busy  plugging  the  leak  so  that  the  vessel  could  continue  its 

50    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

voyage — a  voyage  that,  as  a  result  of  Godel's  work,  now 
shows  itself  to  be  over  an  ocean  that  is  shoreless. 

The  determinist  tends  to  think  that  the  advance  of  a  science 
always  means  an  advance  in  predictability.  Sometimes,  how- 
ever, an  advance  brings  about  a  situation  of  disorder  rather 
than  order.  Mathematics  after  Godel  is,  so  to  speak,  in  a  state 
of  greater  disorder  than  before  him.  We  have  to  think  of  it 
less  as  a  tightly  organized  monarchy  dependent  on  some  cen- 
tral court  and  more  as  a  federation  of  states,  sometimes  with 
rather  fluid  and  overlapping  borders — borders  at  which  con- 
flict and  contradiction  may  occur. 

In  bringing  up  mathematics  for  consideration  I  am  of 
course  deliberately  raiding  the  classical  citadel  of  necessity. 
After  centuries  of  Platonism,  we  seem  compelled  at  last — and 
by  the  results  of  the  mathematicians  themselves — to  construe 
mathematics  as  a  human  enterprise,  one  that  has,  therefore,  a 
thoroughly  human  future  with  the  unpredictable  possibilities 
that  such  a  future  involves. 

2.  Physics.  Here  Professor  Blanshard  has  delightfully 
cleared  the  air  by  suggesting  that  it  is  all  a  question  of  which 
physicist  one  reads.  I  shall  not  debate  with  him  the  relative 
consensus  among  physicists,  especially  of  the  younger  gener- 
ation, though  I  think  it  favors  my  side;  rather,  I  should  like 
to  accept  his  point  and  push  it  one  step  further.  The  reports 
that  come  to  the  layman  these  days  from  the  physical  labora- 
tories are  so  rich  and  teasing  to  the  imagination —  with  their 
talk  of  left-handed  and  right-handed  neutrons,  antimatter, 
and  the  rest — that  perhaps  we  had  better  let  physics  alone  for 
the  present  and  not  try  to  draw  any  philosophical  conclusions 
from  it.  The  change  might  be  welcome  to  the  physicists  them- 
selves: physics  will  be  just  physics  and  not  something  else. 
Certainly  it  has  ruled  the  roost  long  enough  on  this  philo- 
sophic question  of  determinism,  so  that  it  may  now  be  time 
for  a  change.  Physics  now  seems  in  such  a  state  of  upheaval 
that  the  whole  science  provides  a  good  example  of  unpre- 
dictability; the  new  theoretical  synthesis  of  all  recent  findings, 
if  and  when  it  comes,  is  unpredictable  now.  But  these  are 
matters  for  the  physicists  at  tomorrow's  session,  when  they 
will  perhaps  tell  us  something  very  different. 

But  Professor  Blanshard  does  not  seem  to  me  to  assess 
quite  fairly  the  damage  done  to  his  position  by  the  indeter- 
ministic  leanings  of  modern  physics,  for  these  do  at  least 
make  questionable  what  has  hitherto  been  the  main  prop  of 
determinism.  The  physical  model  (as  in  the  case  of  Laplace's 

Determinism  and  Novelty     /    51 

demon)  has  hitherto  been  the  chief  model  of  all  determin- 
istic thinking.  Despite  Heisenberg,  Professor  Blanshard  tells 
us,  nature  in  itself  may  be  deterministic.  To  which  we  can 
only  answer:  then  again,  it  may  not  be.  "May  be"  sounds 
very  curious  issuing  from  the  lips  of  a  determinist;  and  when 
he  is  forced  to  the  minimal  assertion  that  determinism,  after 
all,  may  be  true,  he  is  already  traflScking  in  contingency.  Be- 
hind the  screen  of  appearances  God  may  be  in  his  heaven  and 
every  detail  in  nature  in  its  place  in  accordance  with  unalter- 
able law;  but  if  we,  by  the  natural  laws  themselves,  are  to  live 
always  on  the  hither  side  of  the  screen,  we  shall  have  to  leave 
God's  prospect  to  God  and  not  hanker  for  something  beyond 
our  own  human  limitations.  Professor  Blanshard  will  find  my 
view  here,  as  throughout,  incurably  anthropocentric — to 
which  charge  I  plead  guilty — but  I  see  no  other  center  when 
we  are  talking  about  the  possibilities  of  human  knowledge. 

3.  Artistic  and  intellectual  creation.  Here  wc  pass  from 
hypothetical  considerations  of  unpredictibilities  that  lie  at 
the  fringes  of  knowledge  to  actual  cases  of  unpredictability. 

There  is  the  famous  case  of  Poincar^'s  perceiving  the  solu- 
tion of  a  mathematical  problem  that  had  agitated  him  for 
months  at  the  moment  he  set  foot  on  the  bus  at  Coutances. 
The  mathematician  himself  could  not  have  foreseen  this  event: 
he  would  already  have  had  to  possess  the  solution  to  this 
problem,  together  with  the  psychological  knowledge  when, 
where,  and  how  this  solution  would  come  to  him — an  obvious 
contradiction.  But  if  Poincare  could  not  have  foreknown  the 
event,  neither  could  anyone  else;  for  no  one  else  had  carried 
that  problem  as  far  as  he.  We  cannot  imagine  a  super- 
psychologist  or  superpsychoanalyst,  armed  with  an  impossibly 
complete  knowledge  of  Poincar6's  unconscious,  predicting 
this  event,  for  this  psychologist,  too,  would  already  have  to 
know  the  solution  to  the  mathematical  problem.  Of  course, 
there  remains  the  possibility  of  foreknowledge  by  the  Divine 
Mind,  or  by  his  secular  surrogate,  the  demon  of  Laplace,  but 
I  think  we  have  to  renounce  such  figments  once  and  for  all 
and  recognize  that  if  we  are  talking  about  prediction  we  have  I 
to  have  in  mind  some  possible  human  being,  representative r 
of  some  body  of  human  knowledge,  who  is  going  to  make  the 
prediction.  To  be  sure,  one  must  distinguish  between  unpre- 
dictable in  fact  and  unpredictable  in  principle;  but  predictions 
do  not  float  in  the  air  by  themselves;  they  are  made  by  hu- 
man beings,  and  if  there  is  no  conceivable  human  being  who 
can  make  the  prediction,  then  we  have  to  say  (as  in  the  pres- 

52    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

ent  case)  that  we  are  dealing  with  something  unpredictable  in 

Even  if  we  consider  the  fictitious  picture  of  the  mind  of 
the  creative  genius  dismembered  into  all  its  mental  atoms  (if 
there  be  such),  does  the  possibility  of  prediction  present  it- 
self? The  best  empirical  study  on  this  subject  that  I  know 
happens  to  be  the  work  of  a  literary  scholar:  it  is  The  Road 
to  Xanadu,  by  J.  L.  Lowes,  a  dissection  of  Coleridge's  "An- 
cient Mariner"  and,  principally,  "Kubla  Khan."  The  latter 
poem,  "Kubla  Khan,"  is  a  rare  thing  in  the  history  of  litera- 
ture, since  it  comes  closer  than  any  other  work  to  being  a 
purely  spontaneous  and  unconscious  creation.  Coleridge  tells 
us  that  he  woke  from  a  nap  with  the  whole  poem  in  his  mind 
and  immediately  began  to  write  it  down  just  as  it  had  come 
to  him  in  his  sleep;  there  came  a  knock  at  the  door,  announc- 
ing that  mysterious  and  forever  unknown  visitor,  a  neighbor 
from  Porlock;  Coleridge  talked  with  him  for  some  minutes, 
then  returned  to  his  desk  to  finish  transcribing  the  dream;  but 
it  had  completely  vanished,  and  we  are  left  with  the  teasing 
fragment  of  "Kubla  Khan"  as  it  is — in  its  own  way,  however, 
perfectly  complete  as  a  poem.  Around  1900  some  early  note- 
books of  Coleridge's  turned  up  on  the  literary  market  and 
were  edited  by  German  scholars.  Armed  with  a  hindsight 
knowledge  of  the  two  poems,  Lowes  read  through  all  the 
books  that  had  fed  Coleridge's  imagination. 

Now,  Lowes  did  find  that  a  great  number  of  Coleridge's 
images  and  even  some  of  his  phrases  could  be  traced  back  to 
his  earlier  reading,  particularly  of  travel  books.  Suppose,  for 
argument's  sake,  that  we  could  trace  every  image  and  phrase 
back  to  such  antecedent  reading.  There  would  still  remain 
the  selection,  fusion,  and  transformation  of  these  in  the  poem. 
The  poem  is  as  unmistakably  by  Coleridge  as  any  of  his  rela- 
tively more  conscious  creations;  only  he  could  have  written  it. 
Our  hypothetical  superpsychoanalyst  could  not  have  predicted 
the  dream  without  writing  the  poem;  but  this,  of  course,  no 
one  could  do  but  Coleridge.  Hindsight  does  not  remove  the 
fact  of  unpredictability;  if  it  succeeds  in  tracing  certain  ele- 
ments back  to  some  antecedent  source,  it  nonetheless  leaves 
us  with  the  realization  that  it  would  have  been  impossible  to 
)^  foresee  how,  when,  where,  and  why  these  elements  would 

I  come  together.  In  short,  the  enumeration  of  antecedents  can 
at  best  give  us  only  the  necessary  but  never  the  sufficient  con- 
ditions of  a  creative  act.  The  introduction  of  the  unconscious 
as  an  explanation  does  not  help  the  determinist  at  all.  Far 

Determinism  and  Novelty     /    53 

from  it:  for  the  unconscious,  when  it  is  truly  creative,  is  far 
more  unpredictable  than  the  conscious  mind. 

Indeed,  artists  repeatedly  testify  that  when  they  sit  down 
to  their  job  they  themselves  cannot  predict  the  work  that  will 
be  produced.  The  psychological  examples  usually  cited  by 
determinists  reflect  the  more  monotonous  and  routine  aspects 
of  our  behavior,  as  if  to  reinforce  their  general  picture  of  the 
world  as  a  vast  and  dreamy  machine.  Professor  Blanshard  is 
not  of  this  kidney;  he  wisely  refers  to  a  "causality  of  a  higher 
level  in  the  psychical  realm."  But  something  very  odd  happens 
to  the  word  "necessity"  when  he  refers  to  "aesthetic  necessity" 
as  a  vis  a  tergo  producing  the  unpredictable  work,  and  I  can- 
not see  that  the  term  here  has  any  resemblance  to  the  meaning 
it  has  in  physics  or  in  general  deterministic  schema  he  ad- 
vanced earlier. 

4.  History.  If  in  the  previous  sections  I  have  merely  given 
indications  of  points,  here — because  of  limitations  of  space — 
I  shall  be  able  to  give  only  indications  of  indications. 

So  far  as  I  can  see,  recent  historians  (except  the  Marxists) 
have  become  much  more  cautious,  far  more  inclined  to  qual- 
ify, in  asserting  determinism  on  any  large  scale  in  their  works. 
Determinism  in  history  seems  largely  the  historicism  of  the 
nineteenth  century;  it  is  ideological  rather  than  scientific,  and 
its  technique  is  to  impose,  at  the  dictates  of  its  ideology,  large 
simplifying  patterns  in  place  of  the  actual  chain  of  events. 
Anyone  who  wants  a  good  example  of  this  method  might 
compare  Trotsky's  History  of  the  Russian  Revolution,  a  work 
composed  thoroughly  in  accord  with  the  nineteenth  century 
ideology  of  Marxism,   with  the   treatment   of  the   Russian 
Revolution  in  Sidney  Hook's  The  Hero  in  History.  If  you  read 
Trotsky's  work  carefully,  you  will  notice  that  it  abounds  in 
metaphors  drawn  from  physics — the  pressure  and  explosion 
of  gases,  the  fusion  of  metals,  etc. — all  intended  to  convey  a 
feeling  of  inevitable  historic  processes  carried  to  their  fore- 
ordained  conclusion.   Actually,   continual   apologizing  is  en- 
gaged in  behind  the  scenes,  because  none  of  the  cafe-intellec- 
tual Marxists  of  1914  predicted  that  the  Revolution  would 
break  out  in  Russia,  and  indeed  their  predictions  pointed  quite 
to  the  contrary.  If  we  aproach  the  facts  in  a  more  critical  and 
scientific  spirit,  without  an  ideological  parti  pris,  then  I  think 
we  must  conclude  with  Hook  that  the  Revolution  could  not 
have  taken  place  without  the  individual  figure  of  Lenin.  And, 
of  course,  tne  introduction  of  human  personality  multiplies 

54    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

the  factors  of  chance  beyond  the  determinist's  ability  to  press 
them  into  any  one  of  his  ready-made  schemes. 

But  the  issues  of  history  can  perhaps  be  brought  into 
sharpest  relief  with  a  consideration  of  our  position  now,  in 
mid-twentieth  century,  as  we  face  the  future.  This  historical 
future  is  thoroughly  problematic  and  uncertain.  Will  Russia 
or  the  United  States  be  victorious?  Or  perhaps  a  third  force? 
Will  Conmiunism  conquer  in  the  twentieth  century?  When 
will  the  next  war  break  out?  When  will  the  first  bomb  be 
dropped?  With  such  questions  as  these  we  face  a  future  as 
unknown  to  us  as  the  events  of  the  next  millennium  were  to 
an  intelligent  Greek  of  Thucydides'  time,  who  must  have  felt 
— such,  at  least,  is  our  impression  from  reading  what  has  been 
called  the  first  of  modern  histories — that  the  world  would 
change,  that  it  would  become  very  different  from  what  it  was 
now,  though  in  ways  that  could  not  be  foreseen.  Two  thous- 
and four  hundred  years  have  not  made  the  least  impression  on 
unpredictability  here. 

Such  questions  about  the  future  bring  us  back  to  the  pre- 
phUosophical  level  from  which  this  comment  took  off,  the 
level  at  which,  as  individuals,  we  all  live  and  die.  On  this  level 
we  encounter  a  vast,  shaggy,  amorphous  mass  of  unpredicta- 
bility on  which  our  knowledge  has  made  very  little  impres- 
sion. Billions  of  dollars  trade  hands  annually  in  games  of 
chance;  people  are  anxious  about  their  future,  and  fortune- 
tellers ply  a  prosperous  trade  (there  are  currently  eleven 
astrologers  in  the  Classified  Telephone  Directory — a  curious 
juxtaposition  of  ancient  and  modern);  and  where  primitive 
peoples  scanned  the  skies  for  signs  and  portents,  we  do  so  for 
unidentified  aircraft,  missiles,  or  flying  saucers.  Modern  civili- 
zation has  stabilized  social  life  and  enormously  increased 
predictability  in  certain  areas,  but  in  another  sense  it  has  also 
enormously  increased  the  total  quantity  of  contingency  and 
distributed  it  to  other  focal  points  in  the  body  social. 

Of  course  this  final  litany  of  contingency  is  not  intoned  as 
proof — only  as  a  reminder  to  the  determinist  that  the  spheres 
in  which  determinism  has  so  far  been  established  are  re- 
stricted. When  Professor  Blanshard  concludes  by  saying  that 
he  has  dealt  with  the  three  commonest  objections  to  deter- 
minism, he  seems  to  have  forgotten  the  simplest,  most  direct, 
!  and,  to  my  mind,  most  overriding  objection:  that  as  a  total 
\  thesis  determinism  simply  remains  to  be  proved. 


PART    §§ 

Psfermlnism  In  Modern  SeiarBc® 

Chapter  1 

Deferminism  in  Modern  Selene© 

Percy  W.  Bridgman,  Harvard  University 

Anyone  who  is  inclined  to  define  science  as  the  consensus  of 
competent  scientists  may  well  pause  for  second  consideration 
when  he  contemplates  the  present  state  of  opinion  in  physics 
with  regard  to  the  question  of  determinism  as  it  is  presented 
by  quantum  mechanics.  Seldom  in  the  history  of  physics  (and  i 
for  the  purposes  of  this  exposition  I  shall  take  the  "science" 
of  my  title  to  be  pretty  nearly  equivalent  to  physics)  has  there 
been  such  a  radical  difference  of  fundamental  outlook  be- 
tween the  acknowledged  leaders.  The  so-called  "official"  or 
"orthodox"  attitude  is  that  of  Niels  Bohr  and  Heisenberg  and 
Max  Born.  But  it  is  well  known  that  during  their  lifetimes 
Planck,  who  laid  the  foundations  of  the  theory,  and  Einstein, 
who  very  early  developed  some  of  its  most  important  physical 
consequences,  were  irreconcilably  opposed  to  the  official  point/ 
of  view.  The  intensity  of  Einstein's  opposition  amounted  al- 
most to  intransigence.  Among  those  living  today,  de  Broglie, 
who  first  had  the  fundamental  insights  of  wave  mechanics, 
and  whose  first  intuitive  attitude  was  akin  to  the  more  tradi- 
tional classical  attitudes  of  Planck  and  Einstein,  was  blud- 
geoned into  twenty-five  years  of  unwilling  acceptance  of  the 
official  doctrines  by  Bohr's  apparently  irrefutable  logic,  but 
has  recently  kicked  over  the  traces  again  with  his  glimpse  of 
a  possible  way  of  refuting  Bohr's  argument.  And  it  is  well 
known  that  Schrodinger,  who  gave  wave  mechanics  its  mathe- 
matical form,  has  from  the  beginning  been  more  or  less  of  an 
enfant  terrible,  refusing  to  accept  such  orthodox  concepts  as 
quantum  jumps.  There  is  a  host  of  other  names  not  so  closely 
connected  with  the  historical  beginnings  of  the  subject.  In 
this  country  Henry  Margenau  at  Yale  is  well  known  to  have 
unorthodox  points  of  view.  David  Bohm,  also  unorthodox, 
has  had  a  considerable  following  recently.  In  1953  he  wrote 
a  widely  used  book  in  which   certain  departures  from  the 
orthodox  view  were  suggested,  and  these  have  been  further 
developed  and  accentuated  in  recent  writings.  "Strife  About 
Complementarity,"  '^  a  lively  article  by  Mario  Bunge,  paints 

^Brlt.  low.  Phil.  Sci..  May   1955. 


58    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

a  vivid  picture  of  the  present  conflict  of  interests,  viewpoints, 
and  temperaments. 

The  point  at  issue  in  all  the  discussions  is  itself  somewhat 
fuzzy.  Such  terms  as  "determinism,"  "causality,"  "natural 
law,"  "prediction"  turn  up  almost  inevitably.  These  terms 
are  all  connected  in  some  way  with  the  point  or  points  at 
issue,  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  they  are  not  fully  equivalent 
and  that  differences  among  them  can  be  clearly  specified  if 
one  wants  to  make  one's  analysis  meticulous  enough.  I  shall 
not  find  it  necessary  for  the  purposes  of  this  exposition  to 
attempt  to  sharpen  distinctions  to  the  point  of  emphasizing 
all  recognizable  differences  among  terms,  but  shall  be  able  to 
use  them  in  a  more  or  less  intuitive  common-sense  fashion. 
In  addition  to  the  four  crudely  synonymous  terms  mentioned 
above,  some  other  terms,  without  which  the  discussion  never 
gets  very  far,  turn  up:  for  example,  "reality,"  "subjective," 
"objective."  It  is  more  difficult  to  find  the  meaning  of  these 
terms  than  of  the  first  four;  one  often  has  to  try  to  reconstruct 
the  meaning  by  observing  the  use  of  the  term  in  context, 
which  is  unsatisfactory  and  may  result  in  a  multiplicity  of 
meanings.  One  may  safely  comment,  however,  that  when 
such  terms  begin  to  occur  the  discussion  is  heading  away  from 
the  narrow  limits  of  concern  with  the  experimental  findings 
of  the  laboratory  toward  something  vaguer  and  more  general, 
which,  for  want  of  a  better  description,  we  may  characterize 
as  "philosophical."  In  fact,  it  is  difficult  to  keep  the  discus- 
sion from  entering  the  field  recognized  as  philosophy,  and 
men  like  Bohr  and  Heisenberg  and  Born  do  not  hesitate  to 
use  the  word  "philosophical"  in  connection  with  their  own 

However  marked  the  failure  of  consensus  with  regard  to 
the  philosophical  aspects  of  physics,  there  is  no  such  failure 
with  regard  to  the  experimental  situation  in  the  laboratory. 
Everyone  is  agreed  that  it  is  possible  to  set  up  in  the  labora- 
j  tory  experimental  systems  in  which  events  occur  that  we  are 
■^  at  present  completely  unable  to  predict.  This  is  another  way 
of  saying  that  we  can  establish  no  unique  causal  connection 
between  the  event  and  other  events  or  situations,  which  is 
another  way  of  saying  that  up  to  the  present  we  have  been 
able  to  formulate  no  law  of  nature  according  to  which  the 
given  event  follows  from  other  things.  This  again  may  be 
described  by  saying  that,  as  far  as  we  can  now  see,  the 
event  is  undetermined.  Whether  or  not  the  existence  of  such 

Determinism  in  Modem  Science     /    59 

undetermined  events  is  closely  connected  with  what  the 
philosopher  understands  by  determinism  and  indeterminism, 
we  do  not  need  to  examine.  There  are  doubtless  valid  dis- 
tinctions to  be  made  here,  but  for  our  purposes  we  need  not 
elaborate  them. 

The  relevant  experimental  situations  in  which  there  is  such 
consensus  are  usually  situations  in  the  "microscopic"  world 
of  electrons  and  individual  quantum  events.  A  typical  exam- 
ple would  be  the  interference  pattern  produced  by  a  slender 
beam  of  light  passing  through  a  system  of  slits.  The  pattern 
ordinarily  seen  is  a  pattern  of  light  and  dark  bands  with 
smooth  gradations  from  light  to  dark.  But  if  the  intensity  of 
light  is  made  very  low,  the  smooth  pattern  breaks  down  into 
a  pattern  of  individual  spots,  which  mark  the  arrival  of 
individual  photons  of  light  and  the  excitation  of  individual 
grains  of  the  photographic  emulsion.  The  place  and  time  of 
occurrence  of  any  individual  spot  in  this  pattern  are  at  pres- 
ent absolutely  unpredictable.  It  is  not  necessary,  however,  that 
the  unpredictable  event  should  be  on  the  microscopic  scale;  it 
would  be  possible  so  to  couple  a  disintegrating  speck  of  some 
radioactive  compound  to  an  atomic  bomb  as  to  blow  up  a 
city  at  an  absolutely  unpredictable  time.  Such  an  unpredicta- 
ble situation  on  the  scale  of  daily  life,  however,  seems  always 
to  involve  some  reaching  down  into  the  "microscopic"  and 
bringing  it  up  to  the  scale  of  daily  life. 

There  is,  then,  no  disagreement  about  the  experimental 
situation;  disagreement  begins  with  our  interpretation  of  the 
significance  of  the  experimental  facts,  and  in  the  program 
for  the  future  action  that  we  draw  up  in  its  light.  There  is 
in  the  first  place  the  question  of  how  best  to  talk  about  the 
experimental  situation  as  we  now  have  it.  This  involves  in 
particular  how  best  to  devise  a  mathematics  for  describing 
the  present  experimental  situation  with  its  at  present  unre- 
solved fuzziness.  Here  again  I  think  there  is  consensus  that 
the  present  mathematical  machinery  of  wave  mechanics  is 
competent  to  handle  adequately  all  the  phenomena  at  pres- 
ent experimentally  accessible — involving  the  reactions  of 
atoms,  molecules,  electrons,  and  photons — that  it  was  con- 
structed to  handle.  From  one  point  of  view  this  is  all  the 
physicist  is  concerned  with,  and  we  might  dismiss  all  the 
disagreement  as  being  outside  the  realm  of  physics  and  there- 
fore of  no  proper  concern  to  the  physicists.  But  physicists  are 
obviously  concerned.  Physics  is  finding  itself  forced  into  a 
position  where  it  is  increasingly  concerned  with  problems  out- 

60    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

side  the  realm  of  its  traditional  activity  and  verging  toward 

The  mathematical  machinery,  then,  is  generally  accepted. 
Bohr  and  Schrodinger  would  make  the  same  calculations  to 
find,  for  example,  how  two  hydrogen  atoms  combine  to  form 
a  hydrogen  molecule.  Differences  arise  in  interpreting  the 
mathematics,  which  means  perhaps  that  the  question  is  how 
we  shall  best  talk  about  what  we  do  when  we  use  the  mathe- 
matics. It  is  to  be  anticipated  that  we  shall  have  difficulties 
in  finding  how  best  to  talk  about  what  we  do,  for  the  world 
of  newly  discovered  happenings  is  a  strange  and  paradoxical 
world  in  which  the  customary  patterns  according  to  which 
ordinary  events  behave  are  no  longer  found.  The  first  major 
step  in  interpretation  was  taken  by  Max  Born,  who  pointed 
out  that  the  psi  function  of  Schrodinger's  wave  equation,  an 
equation  that  had  already  been  successfully  used  in  handling 
atomic  phenomena,  could  be  described  in  terms  of  probabili- 
ties. Specifically,  in  a  problem  dealing,  for  example,  with 
electrons,  the  square  of  the  psi  function  at  any  place  deter- 
mines the  probability  that  an  electron  will  be  found  at  that 
place.  The  recognition  of  this  possible  interpretation  of  the 
psi  function,  which  is  fundamental  to  the  "orthodox"  attitude 
toward  wave  mechanics  as  formulated  by  Bohr  and  Heisen- 
berg,  is  everywhere  regarded  as  remarkable  intuitive  insight 
on  Born's  part 

There  was  a  great  advantage  in  an  interpretation  in  terms 
of  probability  because  the  mathematical  machinery  for  han- 
dling probability  had  been  developed  by  mathematicians  for 
its  own  interest  and  had  been  previously  applied  by  physicists 
to  such  problems  as  the  kinetic  theory  of  gases  and  the  statis- 
tical interpretation  of  the  second  law  of  thermodynamics, 
which  made  understandable  the  universal  degradation  of  en- 
ergy. At  the  same  time  it  must  be  recognized  that  the  funda- 
mental role  ascribed  to  probability  is  one  of  the  reasons  why 
there  is  no  consensus  on  the  significance  of  wave  mechanics. 
For  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  there  is  agreement  as  to  the  use 
of  statistical  analysis  in  practical  situations — all  competent 
persons  would  agree  on  how  to  draw  up  a  table  for  a  life 
insurance  company  or  how  to  bet  in  a  complicated  gambling 
game — there  is  no  agreement  as  to  what  probability  "really" 
is,  and  the  matter  is  still  controversial 

Let  us  now  turn  to  a  more  detailed  examination  of  the 
different  points  of  view.  First  consider  the  orthodox  interpre- 
tation of  Bohr  and  Heisenberg,  which  is  probably  that  ac- 

Determinism  in  Modem  Science     /    61 

cepted  by  the  majority  of  physicists.  In  this  interpretation  the 
Heisenberg  uncertainty  relations  and  Bohr's  principle  of  com- 
plementarity play  a  leading  role.  According  to  the  Heisenberg 
principle  there  is  a  correlation  between  the  fuzziness  of  a 
position  measurement  and  the  fuzziness  of  a  velocity  meas- 
urement such  that  when  one  fuzziness  becomes  less  the  other 
becomes  greater  in  proportion.  It  follows  that  it  is  at  present 
impossible  to  make  measurements  that  will  permit  the  accu- 
rate calculation  of  the  position  of  a  particle  at  some  future 
time.  In  this  sense,  therefore,  the  future  position  of  the  parti- 
cle is  not  determined,  and  the  particle  in  its  motion  is  not 
subject  to  causality.  This  situation  is  often  described  by  say- 
ing that  it  is  not  possible  to  make  simultaneous  measurements 
of  position  and  velocity  with  sufficient  precision  to  predict 
the  future  position  (or  velocity) — the  implication  being  that 
for  some  reason  "position"  and  "velocity,"  although  "really 
there,"  are  not  accessible  to  us  simultaneously.  Bohr  cannot 
insist  too  strongly  that  this  is  not  a  legitimate  way  of  talking; 
that,  if  "in  principle"  position  and  velocity  cannot  be  known 
simultaneously,  then  the  object  cannot  simultaneously  "have" 
position  and  velocity.  We  can,  however,  choose  which  it  is 
to  "have"  by  our  choice  of  the  measuring  instrument.  A  great 
deal  of  Bohr's  analysis  has  been  devoted  to  a  detailed  con- 
sideration of  the  greatest  variety  of  different  methods  of 
measurement  and  to  showing  in  detail  that  the  fuzziness  de- 
scribed by  Heisenberg's  principle  is  a  consequence  of  the 
reaction  between  the  measuring  instrument  and  the  object 
being  measured.  It  was  an  essentially  new  insight  for  the 
physicist  that  the  act  of  acquiring  knowledge  itself  disturbs 
the  object  of  knowledge.  The  further  fact  that  the  disturbance 
so  introduced  is  uncontrollable  as  far  as  we  can  now  see  is 
fundamental  to  the  structure  of  wave  mechanics. 

Bohr's  principle  of  complementarity,  which  is  one  of  the 
chief  bones  of  contention,  may  be  described  as  a  working 
out  of  the  consequences  of  seriously  accepting  all  the  impli- 
cations of  the  statement  that  a  body  cannot  simultaneously 
have  position  and  velocity.  We  can  use  either  method  of 
description  as  we  choose,  but  having  made  our  choice  we 
must  abandon  use  of  the  other.  The  principle  has  more  gen- 
eral applications  that  just  to  position  and  velocity;  the  chief 
consequence  is  that  if  we  choose  to  describe  a  system  in 
conventional  terms  of  space  and  time  we  must  renounce  the 
possibility  of  describing  it  in  causal  terms,  or  if  we  choose  to 
describe  it  in  causal  terms  we  must  renounce  describing  it  in 

62    /    Detenninum  and  Freedom 

terms  of  space  and  time.  Involved  in  all  this,  in  a  way  that  is 
perhaps  not  always  very  explicitly  evident,  is  the  insight  that, 
since  an  object  never  occurs  naked  but  always  in  conjunction 
with  an  instrument  of  measurement  or  the  means  by  which 
we  acquire  knowledge  of  it,  the  concept  of  "object,"  as  some- 
thing in  and  of  itself,  is  an  illegitimate  one.  Acceptance  of 
this  insight  with  all  its  implications  is  obviously  going  to 
react  strongly  on  our  idea  of  "reality,"  and  many  of  the  objec- 
tions to  the  orthodox  view  arise  precisely  from  unwillingness 
to  accept  the  altered  view  of  "reality." 

What  is  Bohr's  own  attitude  toward  his  orthodox  doctrine? 
I  can  only  guess,  of  course,  but  I  think  it  safe  to  say  that,  if 
in  the  future  experimental  detail  is  discovered  of  which  we 
now  have  no  inkling,  by  means  of  which  it  would  be  possi- 
ble to  predict  the  individual  photons  in  an  interference  pat- 
tern, Bohr  would  simply  accept  the  fact,  as  would  every  sci- 
entist, and  recognize  that  the  present  wave  mechanics,  as  a 
method  of  dealing  with  the  complete  physical  situation, 
would  have  to  be  abandoned.  For  practical  purposes  of  cal- 
culation within  the  appropriate  range,  however,  wave  me- 
chanics could  be  retained,  just  as  Newtonian  mechanics  has 
its  range  of  application  even  after  the  formulation  of  relativity 
theory.  But  just  as  relativity  theory  forced  a  conceptual  revo- 
lution, so  I  think  discovery  of  at  present  unsuspected  experi- 
mental detail  would  force  a  conceptual  revolution  in  Bohr's 
point  of  view,  and  I  believe  that  Bohr  would  be  the  first  to 
recognize  this.  The  question  of  Bohr's  private  opinion  as  to 
the  probability  of  the  discovery  of  new  kinds  of  experimental 
facts  is  another  matter.  One  may  guess  that  he  considers  the 
probability  rather  remote,  or  he  would  not  have  spent  so 
much  time  and  thought  on  elaborating  his  present  position. 

The  possibility  of  the  discovery  of  new  experimental  facts 
that  would  invalidate  present  quantum  theory  has  often  been 
discussed.  A  roughly  equivalent  formulation  is  to  ask  whether 
there  may  not  be  "concealed  parameters"  in  addition  to 
those  we  now  know  and  in  terms  of  which  we  can  adequately 
describe  present  experimental  knowledge.  In  this  connection 
there  is  an  often  quoted  analysis  by  von  Neumann,  which 
seems  to  be  generally  accepted  as  rigorous,  to  the  effect  that 
it  is  not  permissible  to  suppose  that  there  may  be  "concealed 
parameters"  of  such  a  kind  that  the  principle  of  causality 
would  be  saved  by  their  introduction,  because  the  present 
quantum  symbolism  has  no  place  for  such  new  parameters, 
which  could  not  be  introduced  without  sacrificing  the  sue- 

Determinism  in  Modem  Science    /    63 

cessful  account  of  experiment  that  we  now  achieve  with  our 
present  parameters.  In  this  analysis  "causal"  is  understood 
with  the  usual  connotation  of  the  physicist  as  being  the  sort 
of  complete  causality  that  is  inconsistent  with  Heisenberg's 
relation.  Von  Neumann's  argument  does  not  apply  to  such 
an  emasculated  definition  of  causality  as  is  satisfied  with  a 
psi  function  causally  controlled.  I  digress  here  to  remark  on 
an  apparent  inconsistency  with  a  pronouncement  of  Poin- 
car6's,  in  the  days  when  Planck's  h  was  still  new,  to  the  effect 
that  no  system  whatever,  no  matter  how  strange  its  be- 
havior, can  be  peremptorily  declared  inconsistent  with  classi- 
cal mechanics  if  one  admits  the  possibility  of  sufficiently 
complicated  concealed  parameters.  For  one  can,  if  necessary, 
imagine  concealed  inside  each  weirdly  behaving  atom,  or 
elsewhere,  a  robot  with  written  instructions  to  act  exactly 
as  the  atom  actually  does.  A  robot,  we  may  assume,  is  a 
classically  functioning  mechanism.  The  joker  is  that  the  con- 
cealed mechanisms  reproducing  the  supposedly  unmechanical 
behavior  must  be  completely  isolated  from  outside  contact  or 
access,  so  that  there  is  no  method  whatever  by  which  their 
existence  can  be  established,  and  for  all  practical  purposes 
we  are  dealing  with  a  pure  verbalism. 

The  question  of  Bohr's  personal  attitude  is,  after  all,  more 
or  less  beside  the  point.  We  need  not  accept  any  more  of 
Bohr's  opinions  on  the  "philosophical"  questions  involved 
here  than  are  necessarily  implicit  in  what  Bohr  has  done  in 
distinction  to  what  he  has  said.  It  seems  to  me  that  what  Bohr 
has  done,  essentially,  is,  in  the  first  place,  to  take  seriously 
the  thesis  that  we  shall  never  discover  experimental  detail 
that  will  restore  causal  control  to  atomic  events  and  the  in- 
sight that  nothing  occurs  except  as  part  of  a  larger  whole; 
and,  in  the  second  place,  to  try  to  develop  a  logically  con- 
sistent way  of  thinking  about  what  we  find.  I  am  not  sure 
Bohr  would  maintain  that  he  had  devised  a  system  of  thought 
logically  watertight  in  all  conceivable  aspects,  but  I  think 
we  can  see  that  he  has  gone  a  long  way  toward  success  and 
that  the  problem  he  has  set  himself  is  one  that  cannot  be 

One  can  describe  the  problem  Bohr  has  set  himself  in  an- 
other equally  noncommittal  way:  namely  as  the  problem  of 
devising  a  method  of  talking  about  the  presently  known  ex- 
:  perimental  situation  that  will  emphasize  the  occurrence  of 
events  we  cannot  predict. 

It  seems  to  me  that  most  of  the  criticisms  of  Bohr  arise 

64    /     Detenninum  and  Freedom 

from  unwillingness  to  accept  the  conditions  of  the  problem 
Bohr  has  effectively  set  himself.  Perhaps  part  of  the  unwill- 
ingness arises  from  failure  to  appreciate  the  purely  formal 
aspects  of  the  problem  of  devising  methods  of  thinking  about 
a  hypothetical  physical  situation.  Regarding  the  problem  in 
this  formal  light,  one  should  be  able  to  attack  it  purely  as  an 
intellectual  exercise.  But  I  believe  the  unwillingness  actually 
involves  many  other  factors,  some  of  them  recognizably 
emotional.  The  reason  people  will  not  see  the  problem  in  a 
purely  formal  light  is  that  the  hypothetical  state  of  affairs 
basic  to  the  problem  is  so  much  at  variance  with  their  con- 
ventional and  traditional  pictures  of  what  the  experimental 
situation  must  be  that  they  will  have  none  of  it,  and  even  re- 
fuse to  speculate  how  they  might  act  if  it  actually  existed.  The 
repugnance  of  different  persons  to  accept  the  possibility  that 
the  world  is  actually  constructed  according  to  the  hypothesis 
I  of  orthodox  quantum  theory  varies  greatly  and  may  involve 
iconsiderations  closely  approaching  the  religious.  This  is  per- 
haps most  strikingly  shown  by  Einstein,  who  could  not  bring 
himself  to  accept  the  idea  that  chance  plays  a  fundamental 
role  in  the  scheme  of  things,  and  who  passionately  exclaimed, 
"Der  Herr  Gott  wiirfelt  nicht"  ("The  Lord  God  does  not 
throw  dice").  Einstein's  repugnance  led  him  so  far  that,  in- 
stead of  postulating  that  there  might  be  experimental  facts 
not  yet  discovered,  which  is  a  perfectly  tenable  position  and 
all  that  he  needed,  he  was  convinced  that  no  theory  giving 
a  fundamental  place  to  probability  could  be  logically  consist- 
ent, and  he  spent  a  great  deal  of  time  trying  to  point  out 
logically  untenable  aspects  of  quantum  theory,  always  to 
be  patiently  refuted  by  Bohr. 

Many  alternatives  for  the  orthodox  interpretation  have 
been  proposed,  especially  recently.  I  have  neither  the  time  nor 
the  competence  to  attempt  to  specify  them  in  detail  and  to 
classify  them.  There  is  an  illuminating  paper  on  this  aspect 
of  the  situation  by  Professor  Margenau  in  Physics  Today.^  I 
shall  content  myself  with  some  very  general  comments. 

There  are  in  the  first  place  those  who  maintain  that  it  is 
possible  to  save  the  causality  principle.  A  classified  grouping 
together  of  the  various  interpretations  that  attempt  to  maintain 
the  causality  principle  would  cut  across  the  lines  of  classifica- 
tion proposed  by  Professor  Margenau;  he  himself  would  be 
found  in  this  class,  although  in  his  own  classification  he  stands 

»  7,  6-13,  1954. 

Detenninism  in  Modem  Science    /    65 

alone.  The  causality  principle  is  usually  saved  by  transferring 
its  sphere  of  operation  from  concrete  individual  events  to  the 
probabilities  in  terms  of  which  the  theory  describes  the  sta- 
tistics of  many  occurrences  of  the  individual  event.  This  is 
possible  because  the  psi  function  of  wave  mechanics,  which 
describes  the  statistics,  satisfies  a  definite  differential  equation, 
and  therefore  unfolds  in  an  orderly  and  predictable  way  with 
time.  The  psi  function  may  therefore  be  said  to  be  causal  in 
the  sense  that  its  future  distribution  is  determined  by  its 

Now,  no  one  can  deny  that  the  psi  function  satisfies  an 
equation  according  to  which  it  unfolds  systematically  in  time; 
the  question  is,  why  do  those  who  save  the  causality  principle 
in  this  way  regard  this  behavior  of  the  psi  function  as  perti- 
nent or  significant,  and  why  do  they  regard  this  way  of  saving 
the  causality  principle  with  so  much  satisfaction?  No  one 
who  maintains  the  causality  principle  by  this  method  would 
claim  that  the  individual  event,  such  as  the  single  photon  in 
an  interference  pattern,  thereby  becomes  causally  determined. 
We  are  here  in  the  presence  of  a  dilemma,  for,  in  spite  of  the  \ 
fact  that  we  apparently  must  give  up  causality  for  individual 
atomic  events,  it  is  obvious  that  there  is  some  sort  of  regu- 
larity here,  since  the  apparently  haphazard  individual  photons 
somehow  build  themselves  into  a  regular  pattern  when  there 
are  a  great  many  of  them.  What  is  behind  this  regularity? 
The  fact  of  the  regularity  may  be  formally  described  by  say-  \ 
ing  that  there  are  laws  of  statistical  behavior,  although  there  \ 
are  not  laws  for  individual  events.  But  how  can  this  be?  How 
can  individual  events,  each  of  which  is  completely  haphazard, 
combine  into  regular  aggregates  unless  there  is  some  factor  of 
control  over  their  combination  into  aggregates,  and  what 
kind  of  control  can  there  be  over  a  haphazard  event? 

The  situation  is  almost  imthinkable  with  the  ordinary  con- 
notations of  our  words.  It  becomes  rationally  less  repugnant, 
perhaps,  if  we  can  rediscover  on  another  level  the  regularity 
that  we  have  lost  on  the  level  of  individual  events.  This  I 
think  accounts  for  sfMne  of  the  satisfaction  of  those  who  em- 
phasize that  the  psi  function,  which  describes  the  statistics 
of  physical  situations,  is  itself  not  subject  to  chance,  but  is 
controlled  by  an  equation  as  deterministic  as  the  equations 
of  classical  physics.  Such  a  causality  is,  however,  but  a  poor 
ghost  of  the  robust  causality  of  the  classical  conception,  which 
ascribes  a  cause  (and  an  effect  also)  to  every  event.  I  believe, 
however,  that  there  is  a  deeper  undercurrent  in  the  thinking 


66    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

of  such  people  than  merely  the  desire  to  recover  a  moiety  of 
rationality;  they  feel  that  they  can  now  say,  "The  world  is 
really  deterministic  and  causal,  after  all,  in  spite  of  super- 
ficial appearances  to  the  contrary."  Such  a  feeling  usually 
carries  the  further  consequence  that  the  psi  function  is  as- 
cribed an  "objective  reality,"  for  what  is  the  use  of  a  really 
determined  world  if  the  thing  that  is  determined  is  not  real? 
This  brings  up  the  whole  question  of  the  meaning  of 
"reality,"  a  term  that  has  undergone  a  surprising  renascence 
in  the  usage  of  physicists  after  a  period  of  conscious  absten- 
tion. The  word  is  freely  used  by  Schrodinger  and  de  Broglie, 
and  even  Max  Born  uses  it  on  occasion.  As  would  be  ex- 
pected, there  is  no  clean-cut  specification  of  the  meaning  of 
"reality."  One  is  often  left  to  infer  the  meaning  by  observing 
the  usage,  as  when  an  author  says,  "Everyone  would  agree 
that  such-and-such  a  situation  is  real."  I  have  yet  to  see,  how- 
ever, an  attempt  at  a  definition  of  reality  that  would  justify 
one  in  saying  that  a  probability  is  objectively  real. 

Here  we  encounter  one  of  those  situations  in  which,  in 
spite  of  long  discussion,  there  is  not  even  yet  consensus,  for 
there  still  are  different  schools  of  thought  with  regard  to  prob- 
'  ability.  There  are  some  who  maintain  that  individual  con- 
1  Crete  events  "have"  a  probability,  and  that  it  is  possible  to 
\find  what  this  probability  is.  Professor  Margenau  is  one  of 
these,  and  his  conception  of  probability  is  basic  to  his  inter- 
pretation of  wave  mechanics.  He  defiJaes  his  probability  in 
terms  of  frequency,  and  he  obtains  the  probability  of  a  spe- 
cific event  by  observing  its  frequency  of  occurrence.  I  think 
he  would  say  that  any  actual  observation  of  frequency  can 
give  only  a  rough  value  for  the  probability,  because  of  the 
finite  size  of  the  sample,  but  that  nevertheless  it  is  good 
enough  for  practical  purposes.  Now,  to  me — and  here  I  enter 
controversial  territory — any  such  view  of  probability  that 
allows  one  to  say — and  to  attempt  to  prove  that  he  is  right 
when  he  says  it — that  the  probability  of  some  concrete  event 
is  some  specific  number  rests  simply  on  poor  observation  and 
poor  reporting  of  what  he  does  when  he  applies  the  proba- 
bility concept  to  some  concrete  situation.  What  can  one  pos- 
sibly do  to  show  that  there  was  a  one-sixth  chance  that  a 
particular  throw  of  a  die  would  yield  a  three  when  the  actual 
throw  has  been  made  and  yields  a  three?  It  seems  to  me  that 
the  meaning  of  probability  must  be  found  in  another  sphere 
of  activity.  Inspection  of  what  we  do  leads,  I  believe,  to  a 
view   of  probability   expressed  by   Max  Born   as   follows: 

Determinism  in  Modem  Science    /    67 

"Chance  can  be  understood  only  in  regard  to  expectations  of 
a  subject."^  Elsewhere,  however,  he  says  that  probability 
must  be  recognized  to  have  some  "objective"  reference  be- 
cause we  successfully  apply  probability  to  objective  situations. 
This  sort  of  tenuous  second-hand  objectivity,  however,  is  ap- 
parently not  what  Professor  Margenau  and  others  have  in 

We  return  to  the  question  of  the  frame  of  mind  of  those 
who  are  so  firmly  resolved  that  there  shall  be  an  underlying 
order  that  they  are  satisfied  to  find  it  even  in  probability.  It 
appears  to  me  that  their  views  often  have  some  pretty  deep 
emotional  roots.  Many  men  apparently  crave  a  friendly  uni- 
verse, one  in  which  they  can  feel  themselves  at  home  at  least 
to  the  extent  that  they  can  believe  the  universe  intrinsically 
understandable  by  the  human  mind.  Because  a  universe  with- 
out underlying  regularities  would  not  be  understandable, 
simply  owing  to  the  method  of  functioning  of  the  human 
mind,  there  follows  the  resolution  that  there  shall  be  regu- 

A  slightly  different  twist  is  given  to  this  point  of  view  by 
the  German  philosopher  Ernst  Cassirer  in  his  book  Deter- 
minism and  Indeterminism  in  Modern  Physics,*  recently 
translated  into  English,  with  an  introduction  by  Professor 
Henry  Margenau.  For  Cassirer  the  domain  of  natural  law  is 
not  the  domain  of  objective  things  but  of  cognitions;  natural 
laws  are  defined  by  the  ordering  of  cognitions  that  they  make 
possible.  For  him  the  causal  relation  is  epistemologically  nec- 
essary. He  says: 

We  find  the  essential  significance  of  the  causal  relation,  if 
interpreted  in  a  critical  rather  than  a  metaphysical  sense,  to  be 
that  it  contains  a  statement  not  immediately  about  things  but 
about  experience,  by  which  and  in  virtue  of  which  alone  things, 
as  objects  of  knowledge,  can  be  given  us.  It  expresses  something 
about  the  content  of  empirical  knowledge.* 

If  one  reads  between  the  lines,  particularly  in  the  early  part 
of  the  book,  where  Cassirer  says  in  one  place,  "Ignorabimus 
is  the  only  answer  that  science  can  give  to  the  question  of 
the  essence  and  origin  of  consciousness,"^  I  think  one  is  justi- 
fied in  believing  that  Cassuer  displaces  the  domain  of  law  and 

»  Proc.  Roy.  Soc,  66,  503,  1953. 

*  Trans,  by  O.  Theodor  Benfey  (New  Haven:  Yale  University  Press,  1956). 
»/fcid.,  p.  114. 

•  Ibid.,  p.  5. 

68    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

causality  from  the  physical  to  the  mental  world  because  of 
his  belief  in  the  existence  of  a  mental  world  inaccessible  by 
the  methods  of  science. 

Whether  or  not  this  is  a  fair  evaluation  of  Cassirer's  atti- 
tude, I  think  that  one  cannot  read  the  many  writings  of 
physicists  on  this  question  without  feeling  that  they,  too,  have 
injected  something  nonphysical  into  the  situation.  This  is 
usually  unconscious,  perhaps,  but  may  break  forth  into  articu- 
late expression,  as  in  the  following  quotation  from  Schrod- 

.  .  .  there  is  a  tendency  to  forget  that  all  science  is  bound  up 
with  human  culture  in  general,  and  that  scientific  findings,  even 
those  which  at  the  moment  appear  the  most  advanced  and 
esoteric  and  difficult  to  grasp,  are  meaningless  outside  their 
cultural  context.  A  theoretical  science,  unaware  that  those  of  its 
concepts  considered  relevant  and  momentous  are  destined  even- 
tually to  be  framed  in  concepts  and  words  that  have  a  grip  on 
the  educated  community  and  become  part  and  parcel  of  the 
general  world  picture — a  theoretical  science  I  say,  where  this  is 
forgotten,  and  where  the  initiated  continue  musing  to  each  other 
in  terms  that  are,  at  best,  understood  by  a  small  group  of  fellow 
travellers,  will  necessarily  be  cut  off  from  the  rest  of  cultural 
mankind;  in  the  long  run  it  is  bound  to  atrophy  and  ossify.'' 

There  is  more  in  a  similar  vein;  one  point  of  particular  em- 
phasis is  that  the  physicist  should  not  allow  himself  to  forget 
his  organic  connection  with  the  past.  Now,  some  of  the  impli- 
cations of  Schrodinger's  attitude  can  be  unhesitatingly  ac- 
cepted; nearly  everyone  would  agree  that  society  as  a  whole 
has  a  vital  stake  in  the  scientific  enterprise  and  that  therefore 
it  is  desirable  to  find  the  means  for  disseminating  as  widely 
as  possible  an  appreciation  of  the  nature  of  science  and  a 
knowledge  of  its  factual  findings.  But  it  seems  to  me  that 
other  and  wider  implications  are  unmistakable — the  implica- 
tion that  it  behooves  the  scientist  in  his  theoretical  construc- 
tions to  cast  his  thinking  into  idioms  of  his  times  and  his 
culture.  In  some  ways  this  is  a  most  surprising  admonition. 
I  had  supposed  everyone  recognized  that  as  a  matter  of  fact 
the  theories  of  the  scientist  are  colored  by  contemporary  cul- 
ture, but  that  this  was  nevertheless  something  to  be  regarded 
as  undesirable,  although  unavoidable  because  rooted  in  hu- 
man frailty.  I  had  supposed  that  the  ideal  of  the  theorist  was 
to  erect  a  structure  determined  as  far  as  possible  by  the  facts 

''Brit.  JouT.  Phil.  Set.,  3,  109,  1952. 

Determinism  in  Modem  Science     /    69 

themselves  functioning  autonomously,  and  that,  if  he  could 
discern  that  his  structure  was  being  influenced  by  the  intel- 
lectual fashion  of  the  times,  scientific  integrity  demanded  that 
he  resist  as  far  as  he  could.  I  am  old-fashioned  enough  to  be 
shocked  at  the  suggestion  that  the  scientist  should  cut  his 
cloth  to  the  general  intellectual  fashion  of  his  times,  but  I 
very  much  fear  that  Schrodinger  has  put  his  finger  on  a 
change  in  the  intellectual  atmosphere  of  the  scientist.  I  find  it  i 
hard,  in  reading  the  recent  discussions  of  causality  and  de- 
terminism, to  resist  the  impression  that  many  of  the  debaters 
were  influenced  by  extrascientific  considerations.  This  influ- 
ence is  evident  even  in  the  work  of  Max  Born,  who  says,  in 
combating  Schrodinger's  thesis  that  it  is  waves  and  not  parti- 
cles that  are  fundamental,  "I  think  Schrodinger's  suggestion  is 
impracticable  and  against  the  spirit  of  the  time."*  This  is 
perhaps  unfair  to  Born,  who  may  have  been  throwing  back 
into  Schrodinger's  teeth  his  demand  that  the  theorist  be  aware 
of  his  cultural  background,  but  nevertheless  one  could  wish 
that  Born  had  not  said  it. 

Among  writers  of  less  scientific  stature  than  Born  the  in- 
fluence of  extrascientific  factors  is  unmistakable.  This  is  par- 
ticularly evident  in  Mario  Bunge's  paper  "Strife  About  Com- 
plementarity."^ The  burden  of  Bunge's  paper  is  that  physicists 
are  at  last  awakening  from  the  "dogmatic  slumber"  in  which 
they  have  accepted  "the  official  philosophy  of  quantum 
theory,  which  is  essentially  of  a  positivistic  character"  and 
are  embarking  instead  on  "new,  realistic,  rationalistic,  and  de- 
terministic trends."  It  seems  to  me  that  there  is  too  little 
argument  in  the  paper  and  too  much  name-calling.  It  is  as- 
sumed that  the  reader  will  react  negatively  to  such  epithets  as 
"positivistic"  and  "empiristic"  and  positively  to  "realistic," 
"deterministic,"  and  "scientific  materialism."  The  assumption 
that  the  reader  will  react  in  the  expected  way  to  these  epithets 
and  that  it  is  desirable  that  he  should  so  react  obviously  does 
not  have  its  origin  in  any  purely  scientific  experience.  In  par- 
ticular it  seems  to  me  that  a  strong  odor  of  Marxian  dialectic 
is  detectable  here. 

Bunge  lists  four  axioms  "underlying  every  scientific  en- 
deavor and  confirmed  by  its  failures  and  successes":  (a) 
nature  and  every  one  of  its  parts  is  inexhaustible,  actually  as 
well  as  potentially;  (b)  nature  is  an  interconnected  whole,  so 

8  Guthrie  lecture,  p.  507. 

"Brit.  Jour.  Phil.  Set.,  May  1955. 

70    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

that  the  complete  specification  of  a  single  object  would  re- 
quire the  complete  specification  of  the  whole  universe;  (c) 
knowledge  is  as  inexhaustible  as  its  objects;  (c^)  we  are  limited 
to  a  finite  number  of  variables,  whereas  the  complete  speci- 
fication of  every  bit  of  matter  would  presumably  require  an 
infinite  number  of  variables.  It  is  not  quite  clear  what  is  meant 
by  calling  these  "axioms."  The  meaning  cannot  be  that  all 
scientific  workers  do  as  a  matter  of  fact  follow  these  axioms, 
for  Bunge's  contention  is  that  the  orthodox  interpretation  of 
quantum  mechanics  does  not  follow  these  axioms  and  there- 
fore cannot  be  correct.  Neither  can  "axiom"  be  used  in  the 
sense  of  mathematical  postulate  analysis,  where  an  axiom  is  a 
formally  accepted  preliminary  to  a  deduction  of  the  logical 
consequences  concealed  in  the  axiom.  Sfurely  no  one  would 
maintain  that  the  physicist  is  any  more  restricted  than  the 
mathematician  in  setting  up  any  system  of  axioms  that  he 
pleases  and  deducing  he  consequences.  "Axiom"  must  mean 
something  else;  its  usage  indicates  that  it  ought  to  be  de- 
scribed, rather,  as  a  precept  or  maxim  that  "should"  guide  the 
scientist.  We  may  well  ask,  Whence  comes  the  authority 
claimed  for  these  precepts?  Surely  it  does  not  come  from  any 
scientific  experience  but  from  something  extrascientific,  some- 
thing that  is  never  formulated  and  can  only  be  guessed  at. 

Considering  the  axioms  in  detail,  one  can  have  little  objec- 
tion to  the  first,  if  it  is  to  be  taken  as  advising  the  theorist 
that  he  would  do  well  to  leave  room  in  his  thinking  for  the 
discovery  of  at  present  unknown  facts;  but  it  is  to  be  rejected 
if  it  suggests  that  it  is  illegitimate  for  the  physicist  to  specu- 
late what  the  consequences  would  be  if  there  were  no  new 
facts  to  be  discovered,  which  I  think  is  essentially  what  Bohr 
has  done.  The  second  axiom,  that  nature  is  so  interconnected 
that  the  complete  specification  of  a  single  object  would  re- 
quire the  complete  specification  of  the  whole  universe,  is  in 
the  spirit  of  the  old  Newtonian  mechanics,  which  could  set 
up  a  formula  giving  numerically  the  gravitational  interaction 
of  any  two  objects  in  the  universe,  no  matter  how  small  or 
how  remote  from  each  other.  But  this  axiom  is  completely  di- 
vorced from  any  possible  experience  and  furthermore  violates 
the  spirit  of  the  first  axiom,  because  it  effectively  says  that 
nature  is  so  constituted  that  there  is  no  minimum  interaction 
below  which  one  object  has  no  effect  on  another,  and  in  so 
saying  presumes  to  dictate  the  structure  of  future  experience. 
Not  only  this,  but  it  is  inconsistent  with  the  structure  of  our 
present  experience,  for  one  of  the  consequences  of  Planck's 

Determinism  in  Modem  Science     /    71 

discovery  of  h  is  precisely  that  it  showed  that  there  are,  as 
a  matter  of  fact,  minimum  interactions.  I  remember  my  own 
almost  audible  relief  when  I  saw  that  in  discovering  the  ex- 
istence of  h  Planck  had  absolved  me  of  the  necessity  of  be- 
lieving that  the  slightest  motion  of  an  atom  on  this  earth  has 
some  effect  on  every  atom  in  Sirius,  an  idea  that  always 
seemed  to  me  absurd  to  the  point  of  grotesqueness.  I  never 
was  willing  to  push  mathematics  so  far  or  to  take  it  so  seri- 
ously. Yet  the  Newtonian  view  is  the  one  to  which  the  classi- 
cal conception  of  causality  would  lead  one. 

Bunge's  other  two  precepts,  (c)  and  (d),  may  be  taken  in 
the  same  spirit  as  the  first  in  so  far  as  they  are  not  truisms, 
namely  as  offering  advice  as  to  the  direction  that  theory  may 
take  in  order  to  be  probably  profitable,  but  in  no  sense  as 
setting  limits  to  the  direction  that  it  must  take.  I  have  doubt- 
less devoted  a  disproportionate  amount  of  space  to  Bunge's 
paper,  but  it  does  seem  to  me  to  offer  an  illuminating  example 
of  what  may  happen  when  we  allow  ourselves  to  be  unduly 
influenced  by  extrascientific  considerations. 

The  attentive  reader  can  perhaps  detect  an  undercurrent  of 
disapproval  in  my  ascription  of  extrascientific  motives  to 
those  who  are  led  by  their  desire  for  a  friendly  universe  to 
^_d^mand  determinism  and  to  repudiate  probability  as  an  ulti- 
~"mate.  The  same  repudiation,  however,  may  arise  from  con- 
siderations not  necessarily  emotional  at  all.  One  of  the  funda- 
mental drives  of  the  scientist  is  to  find  explanations  for  the 
things  around  him.  If  one  accepts  probability  as  ultimate,  he  | 
hsis.,  ^^Y  the  yejy  (jgfirijtion  of  probability,  givenjjp  Jhe  jpossi- T 
bility_of_explanation7T  would  concede  thafgnelias  a  per|cct 
right  not  to  give*\ip  the  possibility  of  explanation  except  in 
the  very  last  resort,  and  to  follow  as  long  as  he  can  a  pro- 
gram of  theorizing  that  envisages  the  ultimate  possibility  of 
finding  some  sort  of  "explanation."  It  seems  to  me  that  it  is 
in  this  spirit  that  de  Broglie  has  returned,  in  his  most  recent 
book,  to  a  further  examination  of  the  consequences  of  as- 
suming a  sort  of  ghost  mathematics  back  of  the  recognized 
mathematics  of  wave  mechanics — a  mathematics  in  which 
most  of  the  present  results  are  reproduced  but  that  retains  a 
place  for  possible  causality. 

I  should  now  like  to  present  the  conclusions  to  which  I  my- 
self have  come.  There  have  been  several  guiding  insights:  In 
the  first  place,  the  so-called  microscopic  world,  which  is  com- 
monly thought  to  be  the  arena  of  quantum  theory,  is  really 
nothing  but  the  altered  world  of  our  own  macroscopic  expert- 

72    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

ence — altered  because  we  have  learned  new  sorts  of  macro- 
scopic manipulations  such  as  constructing  microscopes  or 
Wilson  cloud  chambers  or  Geiger  counters.  It  is  consequently 
to  be  expected  that  the  roots  of  the  difficulties  revealed  to 
us  by  quantum  theory  are  already  present  in  the  sphere  of 
ordinary  life  and  should  be  discoverable  by  acute  enough 
analysis.  Secondly,  the  process  of  acquiring  information  or 
knowledge  in  any  physical  situation  must  interfere  with  and 
to  some  extent  alter  the  system  about  which  we  wish  to  ac- 
quire information.  This  means  that  no  object  can  ever  be 
strictly  isolated  and  considered  in  and  for  itself,  but  must  be 
treated  as  a  part  of  a  larger  system  in  which  at  least  the  instru- 
ment by  which  we  acquire  knowledge  is  included.  It  is  further 
made  plain  that  aspects  of  a  situation  about  which  we  have 
no  actual  or  potential  knowledge  can  be  of  no  concern.  Such 
aspects  can  only  be  talked  about,  and  then  not  without  con- 
cealed self-contradiction.  Finally,  our  ultimate  concern  is  with 
events  or  happenings  rather  than  things.  With  a  background 
of  this  sort  it  seems  to  me  that  we  can  face  the  world  as  re- 
vealed to  us  by  quantum  theory  without  feeling  that  it  does 
not  make  sense. 

Take  in  the  first  place  the  consideration  that  the  object  of 
knowledge  is  not  to  be  separated  from  the  instrument  of 
knowledge.  Two  extreme  limiting  cases  are  to  be  recognized: 
the  instrument  is  very  small  compared  with  the  object,  and  the 
object  is  very  small  compared  with  the  instrument.  Since  we 
are  in  the  last  resort  the  instrument  for  acquiring  knowledge, 
the  two  limiting  cases  are:  objects  large  compared  with  us  and 
objects  small  compared  with  us,  or,  in  other  words,  simply 
large  and  small  objects.  Now,  it  seems  to  me  to  make  sense  to 
suppose  that  a  small  instrument  can  find  out  more  about  a 
large  object  than  a  large  instrument  can  find  out  about  a  small 
object.  The  small  instrument  can  explore  the  large  object  bit 
by  bit  in  a  way  impossible  for  a  large  instrument  with  a  small 
object.  It  also  seems  to  me  to  make  sense  to  suppose  that  more 
perfect  knowledge  of  the  large  object  would  make  possible 
more  effective  ways  of  dealing  with  it.  In  particular,  I  think 
it  makes  sense  to  find  that  we  can  predict  the  future  behavior 
of  a  large  object  but  not  that  of  a  small  object.  This  is  merely 
another  way  of  saying  that  it  makes  sense  that  causality  should 
fail  for  small  objects.  As  part  of  the  same  picture,  the  Heisen- 
berg  uncertainty  relation  does  not  outrage  my  feeling  of  what 
makes  sense.  Of  course  these  very  vague  general  considera- 
tions can  give  no  hint  of  the  mathematical  form  of  the  Heisen- 

Determinism  in  Modem  Sdence     /    73 

berg  relation  or  of  the  existence  of  Planck's  h — this  must 
come  from  the  detailed  analysis  of  the  actual  experiments. 

As  another  example,  consider  the  often  quoted  paradox  that 
an  electron  has  no  individuality  or  identity.  The  paradox  dis- 
appears if  one  no  longer  thinks  of  an  electron  as  an  "object," 
but  as  an  aspect  of  what  happens  in  particular  kinds  of  physi- 
cal situations — including  in  the  physical  situation  all  the  in- 
strumentation by  which  the  electron  is  detected  or  measured. 
Under  such  conditions  it  need  make  no  more  sense  to  ask 
whether  the  electron  we  now  observe  is  the  "same"  as  the 
electron  we  observed  a  moment  ago  than  to  ask  whether  the 
wind  that  now  cools  our  cheek  is  the  same  as  the  wind  that 
blew  yesterday.  The  paradox  disappears  even  from  such  state- 
ments as  that  we  can  "choose"  whether  the  electron  is  to  have 
position  or  velocity.  The  electron  in  and  by  itself  does  not 
"have"  either  position  or  velocity;  these  pertain  to  what  hap- 
pens in  the  whole  situation,  including  the  instrumentation.  We 
can  set  up  a  "position  situation"  or  a  "velocity  situation"  as 
we  please  by  suitably  arranging  the  apparatus.  There  is  surely 
nothing  paradoxical  here. 

I  think  quantum  mechanics  make  sense,  and  I  think  that  the 
fact  that  it  does  make  sense   and  hangs  together  logically 
means,  among  other  things,  that  a  law  of  causality  or  a  deter- 
ministic structure  for  the  universe  or  an  underlying  continu-  /si 
ity  as  distinguished  from  discreteness  is  not,  as  has  often  been  s  / 
maintained,  a  necessary  prerequisite  to  rational  thought.  But  '^ 
whether  quantum  mechanics  will  survive  is  a  different  ques- 
tion, a  question  to  which  the  answer  rests  with  experiment. 
There  is  no  present  indication  that  experiment  will  decide 
against  it.  I  would  like  to  suggest,  however,  two  directions  in 
which  I  think  future  experiment  might  look  for  at  present  un- 
discovered structure. 

The  first  has  to  do  with  the  significance  of  the  successful  use 
of  the  mathematical  apparatus  of  statistics  and  probability.  In 
this  mathematical  apparatus  we  had  a  ready-made  tool  admir- 
ably adapted  to  dealing  qualitatively  with  situations  chracter- 
ized  by  vagueness  or  experimental  uncertainty  or  inaccuracy. 
The  experimental  check  so  far  leaves  nothing  to  be  desired; 
nevertheless  all  our  experimental  checks  have  been  of  a  rather 
special  kind  in  that  they  have  been  confined  to  regions  of  high 
probability  density.  I  should  like  to  see  developed  an  experi- 
mental method  for  dealing  more  in  detail  with  regions  of  low, 
probability  density.  What  inspires  this  suggestion  is  my  lifelong  j 
repugnance  to  such  statements  as  that  of  Bertrand  Russell,  that- 

74    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

if  we  only  wait  long  enough  we  shall  certainly  see  a  pail  of 
water  freeze  on  the  fire.  This  may  be  conceded  to  be  a  rigorous 
consequence  of  the  mathematics,  but  to  me  it  is  utterly  incred- 
ible as  a  statement  of  physical  fact.  I  would  propose  the  ques- 
tion: Can  phenomena  be  found  anywhere  corresponding  even 
remotely  to  Russell's  freezing  of  water  on  a  fire?  A  more  con- 
servative proposal  would  be  the  investigation  of  the  fluctua- 
tions of  fluctuation  phenomena. 

The  second  direction  in  which  I  would  look  for  new  types 
of  experimental  evidence  is  suggested  by  our  so-called  free- 
dom to  decide  whether  the  electron  shall  have  position  or 
velocity.  My  question  is :  What  are  the  limitations  on  the  time 
at  which  we  have  to  decide  which  it  shall  be?  Ordinarily  we 
make  our  choice  long  in  advance;  we  set  up  a  position  ap- 
paratus or  a  velocity  apparatus  and  then  wait  to  catch  an  elec- 
tron in  it.  But  what  happens  if  we  make  our  choice  after  we 
have  caught  our  electron?  Specifically,  imagine  an  interfer- 
ence apparatus  in  which  an  electron  passes  through  one  hole, 
presently  meets  a  first  screen  with  two  holes,  and  still  later 
impinges  on  a  second  screen,  where  it  forms  part  of  an  inter- 
ference pattern.  If  there  had  been  only  one  hole  in  the  first 
screen  we  would  have  got  a  pattern  entirely  different  from  that 
obtained  with  a  two-hole  screen.  My  question  now  is:  What 
happens  if  we  change  from  a  one-hole  screen  to  a  two-hole 
screen  (or  vice  versa)  after  the  electron  has  passed  the  first 
hole  and  while  it  is  in  transit  to  the  first  screen?  The  same  sort 
of  experiment  might  even  more  instructively  be  performed 
with  light  quanta  rather  than  with  electrons.  The  general 
problem  might  be  to  study  in  closed  systems  the  fine  structure 
of  macroscopic  propagation  phenomena  that  occur  in  times 
less  than  the  time  required  by  light  to  travel  across  the  system. 
Such  experiments  have  not  yet  been  accessible  to  technique, 
but  I  am  told  that  they  soon  will  be.  They  might  throw  light 
on  such  problematic  questions  as  the  supposed  instantaneous 
collapse  of  the  psi  function  when  new  information  is  ac- 
quired at  any  point  of  a  system. 

Finally,  I  should  like  to  suggest  what  seems  to  me  a  limita- 
tion on  all  quantum  theoretical  analysis,  or,  for  that  matter, 
on  the  criticisms  of  that  analysis.  It  has  been  a  new  insight,  at 
\  least  for  the  physicist,  that  the  object  of  knowledge  is  not  to 
\  be  separated  from  the  instrument  of  knowledge.  This  has 
\  I  often  been  expressed  by  saying  that  an  analysis  of  the  role  of 
\  the  observer  is  necessary  to  an  understanding  of  quantum 
\  theory.  There  the  observer  is  identified  with  the  instrument  of 

Determinism  in  Modem  Science     /    75 

knowledge.  It  is  well  recognized  that  there  is  no  sharp  divid- 
ing line  between  the  instrument  of  knowledge  and  the  object 
of  knowledge,  and  that  for  different  purposes  the  line  may  be 
drawn  at  different  places.  Thus  it  may  be  drawn  at  the  photo- 
graphic plate  on  which  some  event  is  recorded,  or  at  the  retina 
of  the  eye  of  the  experimenter  who  examines  the  plate,  or  at 
the  neural  processes  in  the  brain  produced  by  the  events  at  the 
retina.  Wherever  we  draw  the  line,  we  eventually  end  with 
knowledge.  Seldom,  if  ever,  does  the  physicist  ask  what  the 
nature  of  this  knowledge  is,  because  for  his  purposes  he  does 
not  need  to.  If  one  wants  a  specific  description  of  what  the 
physicist's  purposes  are,  the  answer  can  be  found  by  examin- 
ing what  he  does  with  his  quantum  theory:  his  use  of  it,  for 
the  most  part,  is  limited  to  the  atomic  events  he  manipulates 
in  his  laboratory.  But  for  purposes  wider  than  those  of  the 
physicists,  in  particular  for  the  purpose  of  acquiring  the  full- 
est possible  understanding,  we  cannot  forgo  asking  what  this 
knowledge  is  that  for  the  physicists  is  the  end  product.  Here 
we  obviously  enter  a  field  of  great  vagueness.  From  one  point 
of  view  a  question  has  no  meaning  if  we  cannot  formulate 
what  sort  of  an  answer  we  should  be  willing  to  accept,  and  it 
must  be  admitted  that  it  is  not  easy  to  formulate  the  condi- 
tions that  should  be  satisfied  if  we  are  to  feel  that  we  had  an 
understanding  of  the  nature  of  knowledge.  But  I  think  that 
our  groping  quest  may  nevertheless  have  some  direction. 
What  gives  me  most  disquietude  here,  and  what  I  think  quan- 
tum theory  ignores  in  spite  of  its  ostensible  concern  v/ith  the 
observer,  it  the  simple  observation  that  knowledge  never  oc- 
curs except  in  conjunction  with  a  nervous  system  that  has 
itself  been  subjected  to  a  most  elaborate  preconditioning. 
Furthermore,  the  nervous  system  is  itself  a  physical  system 
of  a  complexity  so  formidable  that  we  are  only  beginning  to 
have  an  inkling  of  how  it  functions.  It  seems  to  me  that  we 
cannot  permanently  be  satisfied  with  an  analysis  that  purports, 
as  does  quantum  theory,  to  reduce  to  understandability  the 
functioning  of  the  ultimate  structural  units  of  the  universe, 
when  that  understandability  itself  demands  the  cooperation  of 
superstructures  of  as  yet  unfathomed  complexity. 
'  "-It  seems  to  me  that  when  we  take  full  cognizance  of  the  fact 
that  we  cannot  get  away  from  our  nervous  systems,  we  shall 
recognize  intellectual  limitations  that  we  at  present  ignore. 
With  such  a  background  I  would  say  to  those  who  think  quan- 
tum theory  does  not  make  sense  that  it  at  least  makes  sense 
that  it  should  not  make  sense. 

Chapter  2 

The  Relativity  of  Defermlfiism 

Milton  K.  Munitz,  New  York  University 

The  lack  of  consensus  in  current  discussions  about  determin- 
ism in  modern  science,  as  Professor  Bridgman  has  made 
amply  clear,  is  not  in  any  way  due  to  a  disagreement  either 
about  the  experimental  facts  or  about  the  mathematical  calcu- 
lations employed  in  various  formulations  of  physical  theory. 
Professor  Bridgman  ascribes  the  defense  of  a  deterministic 
view  on  the  part  of  some  writers  to  extrascientific  motives  of 
a  specifically  emotional  sort,  involving,  among  other  things, 
a  longing  for  a  "friendly  universe,"  one  in  which  regularities 
are  pervasively  present.  In  briefly  setting  out  his  own  views 
he  has  indicated  why  it  makes  sense  to  say,  not  that  the  uni- 
verse is  unfriendly,  but  that  causality,  as  he  puts  it,  "should 
fail  for  small  objects."  Professor  Bridgman,  it  would  seem, 
finds  a  universe  in  which  there  is  some  objective  element  of 
indeterminism,  one  in  which  he  finds  himself  perfectly  at 

Now,  whether  or  not  emotional  considerations  are  relevant 
factors  in  either  accepting  or  rejecting  a  determinist  view, 
there  is  another  basis  of  approach,  to  which  Professor  Bridg- 
man alludes,  that  is  of  greater  moment.  He  remarks  that  "we 
cannot  forgo  asking  what  this  knowledge  is  that  for  the  physi- 
cist is  the  end  product."  This  is  precisely  the  important  kind 
of  question  to  raise.  It  indicates  at  once  that  what  we  are  con- 
cerned with  is  a  philosophical  question.  Unfortunately,  for 
Professor  Bridgman  this  means,  as  he  says,  that  at  this  point 
we  "enter  a  field  of  great  vagueness."  Perhaps  so.  But  whether 
or  not  the  issue  of  determinism  is  vague  in  principle  because 
it  is  a  philosophical  one,  this  issue,  in  so  far  as  there  is  one, 
is  not  in  any  case  internal  to  science;  nor  is  it  to  be  settled 
on  emotional  grounds.  (I  say  "in  so  far  as  determinism  is  an 
issue"  because  the  term  is  sometimes  used  in  a  purely  techni- 
cal sense  as  a  label  for  the  specific  type  of  differential  equa- 
tions and  their  solutions  in  classical  Newtonian  mechanics; 
analogously,  the  equations  of  modern  quantum  mechanics, 
different  in  certain  crucial  respects,  are  called  "indetermin- 


The  Relativity  of  Determinism     /    77 

istic")  The  issue  of  determinism  is  more  nearly  indicated  by 
the  problems  that  arise  when  one  tries  to  decide  whether  to 
agree  with  Professor  Bridgman  when  he  says:  "a  law  of 
causality  or  a  deterministic  structure  for  the  universe  or  an 
vmderlying  continuity  as  distinguished  from  discreteness  is 
not  ...  a  necessary  prerequisite  to  rational  thought."  This 
type  of  question  cannot  be  settled  simply  by  consulting  the 
above-mentioned  "technical"  meanings  of  determinism  as 
used  to  label  certain  types  of  equations  in  physics.  If  settled 
at  all,  the  issue  of  determinism  is  one  to  be  resolved  by  trying 
to  clarify  the  cognitive  status  of  various  types  of  statements 
in  science,  and  among  them  a  type  of  statement  of  which  the 
principle  of  indeterminacy  is  a  particularly  intriguing  example. 
It  is  the  complex  of  differences  in  the  philosophy  of  science, 
not  in  science,  that  emerges  here  and  that  helps  us  focus  on 
the  point  where  controversy  genuinely  arises. 

Perhaps  I  can  best  bring  out  my  main  point  if  I  call  atten- 
tion to  what  at  first  sight  might  seem  to  Professor  Bridgman 
and  others  a  somewhat  strange  coupling  of  his  own  views  with 
that  of  a  philosopher-scientist  who,  as  he  has  reminded  us, 
has  taken  an  almost  intransigent  view,  wholly  opposite  to  his 
own,  with  respect  to  determinism:  namely  Einstein.  I  would 
suggest  that  Professor  Bridgman,  like  many  other  "indeter- 
minists,"  has  more  in  common  with  determinists  like  Einstein, 
from  one  philosophical  point  of  view,  than  is  sometimes 
recognized.  What  they  have  in  common,  indeed,  is  of  more 
interest  and  importance  than  their  differences.  In  order  to  sup- 
port this  way  of  approaching  the  question,  I  should  like  to 
suggest  in  barest  outline  what  seems  to  me  at  least  one  other 
entirely  different  way  of  looking  at  the  matter,  one  that 
serves  as  a  major  alternative  to  this  first  type  of  philosophy. 
There  is  no  question  here  of  course  of  trying  to  prove  the 
superiority  of  one  philosophy  of  science  over  another.  At 
best,  what  we  may  hint  at  is  the  manner  in  which  certain  diflS- 
culties  and  controversies  dissolve  when  we  shift  our  perspec- 
tive in  a  suflBciently  fundamental  way.  The  thesis  I  am 
proposing,  in  short,  is  that  the  whole  controversy  between 
determinism  and  indeterminism  as  it  is  customarily  formu- 
lated is  not  finally  to  be  settled  by  taking  sides  and  showing 
the  overwhelming  merits  of  one  of  them.  It  is  to  be  "settled" 
by  taking  seriously  a  philosophy  of  science  in  which  the  terms 
"determinism"  and  "indeterminism"  not  only  imdergo  radical 
change,  but  in  doing  so,  require  all  scientific  knowledge  in- 
volving the  use  of  theory  to  be  deterministic. 

78    /     Determinum  and  Freedom 

Various  terms  are  at  hand  by  which  we  may  label  these 
rival  philosophies.  Karl  Popper,  for  example,  has  recently 
suggested  the  terms  "essentialism"  and  "instrumentalism"  as 
suitable  ones,  while  the  terms  "realism"  and  "conventional- 
ism" may  be  preferred  by  others.  Since,  however,  I  wish  to 
stress  that  one  whole  group  of  views,  whether  "determinist" 
or  "indeterminist,"  has  reference  to  what  are  alleged  to  be  the 
structural  features  of  events  or  situations  or  objects  as  "dis- 
closed" by  scientific  inquiry,  I  shall  refer  to  this  approach  as 
basically  "ontological."  According  to  the  other  approach, 
"causality,"  "determinism,"  "necessity,"  "predictability,"  and 
other  associated  terms  have  to  do  primarily  with  the  connec- 
tions between  statements,  which  represent  what  is  or  is  not 
present  in  the  inference  patterns  of  the  scientist.  This  I  shall 
call  the  "logical"  approach. 

Einstein's  lifelong  opposition  to  those  who  regarded  quan- 
tum physics  as  pointing  to  an  element  of  genuine  indetermin- 
ism  or  unpredictability  among  some  of  nature's  events  was 
based  on  a  profound  belief  in  what  he  thought  of  as  the 
intelligibility  of  the  universe.  It  was  not  simply  that  he 
thought,  for  example,  that  the  program  of  field  physics  to 
which  he  devoted  aU  his  energies  would  be  more  successful  as 
a  heuristic  device  for  achieving  better  predictions  or  explana- 
tions, or  that  it  was  simply  a  more  "congenial"  point  of  view. 
Rather,  he  looked  on  nature  in  Spinozistic  terms  and  referred 
to  his  Spinozism  as  his  "religion."  He  thought  of  nature,  to 
use  his  own  favorite  metaphor,  as  rather  like  a  puzzle.  The 
scientist  tries  to  fit  the  pieces  together  or  obtain  solutions  to 
his  queries  by  seeking  the  uniquely  correct  way  of  specifying 
what  the  structvu-e  is.  Einstein  believed  the  program  of  field 
physics  to  hold  out  the  promise  of  eventually  realizing  this 
goal  to  a  superior  degree  in  comparison  with  any  other.  Ein- 
stein's dissatisfactions  with  quantum  physics  arose  from  the 
conviction  that  its  conceptual  foundations  were  essentially  in- 
complete, that  because  of  its  statistical  character  quantum 
theory  referred  to  "ensembles  of  systems  and  not  to  individual 

If  one  is  going  to  criticize  such  a  view  philosophically,  one 
can  perhaps  best  begin  by  showing  that  the  "root  metaphor" 
on  which  it  rests — that  nature  is  like  a  puzzle  with  a  unique 
solution — is  really  one  that  turns  out  to  be  cramping  rather 
than  liberating  in  its  implications.  Real  puzzles  are  con- 
structed by  men  for  men,  and  we  know  in  advance  that  there 
is  a  favored  solution.  But  why  think  of  nature  as  a  puzzle? 

The  Relativity  of  Determinism     /    79 

Men,  being  curious  or  troubled,  find  problems  in  nature,  and 
in  their  religious  moments  they  may  even  wish  to  dwell  on 
an  element  of  ineffable  mystery  connected  with  it.  Given  the 
problems  that  scientists  encounter  and  pick  out,  they  can  offer 
a  variety  of  possible  answers.  But  why  need  we  assume  that 
there  is  some  one  supremely  satisfactory  way  of  dealing  with 
these  problems?  Einstein's  philosophy,  one  might  say,  is  the 
outcome  of  projecting  into  the  allegedly  antecedent  and  in- 
dependent structure  of  facts  what  is  at  bottom  a  favored  view 
but  still  only  one  of  many  possible  theoretical  views  of  things. 
His  realistic  rationalism  is  the  result  of  reifying  the  concep- 
tualizations of  a  legitimate  yet  limited  perspective  into  the 
necessities  of  things  and  events.  The  successes  of  the  special 
and  general  theory  of  relativity  in  yielding  explanations  and 
predictions  of  a  more  adequate  sort  than  those  provided  by 
earlier  or  rival  theories — these  the  working  physicist  recog- 
nizes and  gladly  welcomes  without  having  to  subscribe  to  the 
ontologism  of  Einstein's  philosophy  of  science.  Such  a  work- 
ing physicist  may  rightfully  insist  on  the  use  of  quantum 
physics,  even  if  in  its  conceptual  basis  it  is  wholly  different 
from  what  Einstein  would  think  of  as  desirable.  And  again  he 
would  do  so  on  the  simple  pragmatic  ground  that  it  is  suc- 
cessful in  its  predictions  and  explanations  to  a  sufficiently  high 
degree  to  warrant  his  use  of  it.  But  need  there  be  any  logical 
incompatibility  in  using  side  by  side  the  wholly  different 
techniques  of  inference  or  different  analogical  modes  of  view- 
ing things  that  constitute  the  foundations  of  these  various 
theories?  Not,  he  may  say,  if  we  do  not  commit  ourselves  in 
advance  to  the  belief  that  nature  has  a  structure  that  will 
yield  its  secrets  to  one  and  only  one  of  these  formulations. 
This  is  another  way  of  saying  that  we  have  no  compelling 
reason  to  believe  that  the  theories  with  which  the  physicist 
works  are,  or  aim  to  be,  true,  that  they  would  disclose  to  us, 
as  Galileo  put  it,  "the  language  in  which  the  Book  of  Nature 
is  written."  For  nature  is  not  really  like  a  book  written  in  a 
language  at  all.  Hence  nature  is  neither  logical  nor  illogical, 
neither  mathematical  nor  nonmathematical,  neither  rational 
nor  irrational,  and  so  neither  determined  nor  undetermined. 
These  predicates  apply  only  to  statements  in  human  discourse, 
and  the  way  in  which  such  statements  fit  or  not  into  certain 
accepted  patterns  of  inference,  patterns  that  in  the  case  of 
empirical  science  are  set  up  by  men  for  dealing  with  the  facts 
of  observational  experience. 

Now,  unlike  Einstein's,  Professor  Bridgman's  orientation  to 

80    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

physics  is  primarily  that  of  an  experimentalist,  and  this  fact 
controls  his  interpretation  of  what  is  contained  in  the  dis- 
tinctive ideas  of  quantum  physics.  If  we  examine  the  manner 
in  which  he  expounds  and  illustrates  the  main  principles  of 
this  physics,  it  becomes  clear  that  he  reads  them  as  basically 
experimentally  verifiable  reports  of  what  is  found  in  the 
laboratory.  First,  Professor  Bridgman  tends  to  equate  the 
physicist's  process  of  acquiring  knowledge  with  the  process  of 
acquiring  information  through  the  use  of  appropriate  instru- 
mentation. It  makes  sense,  he  argues,  on  the  submicroscopic 
as  well  as  on  the  macroscopic  level  that  the  very  process  of 
acquiring  information  (knowledge)  should  interfere  in  some 
way  with  the  "objects"  whose  "traits"  are  being  examined,  so 
that  a  more  comprehensive  perspective  would  include  this 
very  interaction  itself  in  all  its  complexity,  extending  even  so 
far  as  the  still  undisclosed  intricacies  of  the  human  nervous 
system.  Secondly,  Heisenberg's  principle  of  uncertainty  is 
taken  to  describe  the  relation  of  relative  fuzziness  in  the  meas- 
urements, experimentally  arrived  at,  of  the  velocity  and  posi- 
tion of  subatomic  particles.  Finally,  Professor  Bridgman 
interprets  what  we  are  to  understand  by  such  a  phrase  as  the 
"individuality  of  the  electron"  as  not  referring  to  some  object 
existing  in  itself  apart  from  the  observer's  interaction  with 
"it,"  but  as  a  more  complex  situational  event.  "The  electron," 
he  says,  "in  and  by  itself  does  not  'have'  either  position  or 
velocity;  these  pertain  to  what  happens  in  the  whole  situation, 
including  the  instrumentation." 

Granted  the  obvious  importance  of  the  experimentalist's 
instrumentation  in  obtaining  information  as  a  necessary  and 
relevant  ingredient  in  the  process  of  obtaining  knowledge  of 
the  physical  world,  it  seems  to  me  that  the  stress  Professor 
Bridgman  gives  to  the  virtual  identification  of  information 
and  knowledge  slurs  over  certain  important  distinctions  be- 
tween the  roles  of  theory  and  observation.  Now,  theory  is 
primarily  a  matter  of  conceptual  construction,  having,  as  all 
thought  must,  a  neurological  base;  but  to  speak  of  this  element 
in  knowledge  as  interacting  with  the  object  seems  to  me  some- 
what queer  and  indeed  confusing.  It  results  from  trying  to 
put  under  the  heading  of  apparatus  what  is  actually  not  ap- 
paratus at  all.  Moreover,  this  way  of  approaching  the  matter 
has  a  further  and  perhaps  more  serious  consequence.  One  as- 
sumes that  theory  is  at  best  only  a  report  of  what  one  finds  in 
experiment.  The  fact  is,  however,  that  Heisenberg's  principle, 
for  example,  is  not  a  report  of  what  one  discovers  as  a  result 

The  Relativity  of  Determinism    /    81 

of  trying  to  perform  certain  measurements.  It  is,  instead,  a 
defining  element  of  quantum  theory,  and  so,  among  other 
things,  a  way  of  specifying  what  for  the  purposes  of  the 
theory  is  to  be  regarded  as  a  "particle."  This  is  not  the  "parti- 
cle" of  traditional  mechanics,  since,  even  on  the  level  of 
theory,  there  is  no  possibility  of  simultaneous  specification  to 
any  desired  degree  of  accuracy  of  both  its  position  and  vel- 
ocity. What  we  have  here,  then,  is  a  part  of  a  diJB^erent  and, 
in  some  ways,  more  complex  set  of  theoretical  ideas  by  means 
of  which  it  is  attempted  to  provide  explanations  and  predic- 
tions for  observed  or  observable  facts.  Similarily,  what  is  re- 
ferred to  as  an  "electron"  or  "photon"  is  not  an  object  of 
direct  observation,  but  represents  in  summary  fashion  a 
whole  schema  for  interpretational  devices  and  inferential 
techniques  of  theory  that  are  brought  to  bear  in  thinking  or 
reaching  conclusions  about  observational  materials.  Professor 
Bridgman,  it  seems  to  me,  though  appearing  to  rely  exclu- 
sively on  what  one  finds  in  the  laboratory,  is  actually  letting 
in  a  good  deal  in  the  way  of  constructive  theory  and  is  thus 
perhaps  giving  a  greater  ontological  weight  to  the  terms  of 
theory — as  if  these  corresponded  to  some  structural  features 
of  physical  events  —  than  need  be  done.  He  finds  indeter- 
minism  in  the  universe  not  really  because  the  measurements 
of  the  laboratory  force  this  interpretation,  but  because  he  is 
willing  to  accept  the  orthodox  interpretation  of  quantum 
theory  as  describing  the  alleged  structure  of  certain  physical 
events.  In  displaying  this  confidence  in  orthodox  quantum 
theory,  he  is  expressing,  I  suspect,  the  same  type  of  confidence 
in  what  theory  can  accomplish  as  Einstein,  although  the 
specific  ontology,  to  be  sure,  is  different. 

Now,  instead  of  letting  the  reifications  of  one's  ontological 
approach  to  scientific  theory  came  in  through  either  the  front 
door  or  the  back  door,  one  might  say,  in  the  present  context 
of  discussion,  that  quantum  theory  is  as  deterministic  as 
classical  physics,  or  indeed  as  any  theory,  by  its  very  nature, 
is  bound  to  be.  This  means  simply  that  a  specific  theory,  what- 
ever its  conceptual  tools  or  analogical  base,  offers  us  a  way, 
distinctive  to  itself,  of  making  inferences  from  certain  obser- 
vationally  identifiable  facts  to  others,  and  of  interpreting 
what  those  experimental  facts  are.  Any  conclusions  reached 
in  accordance  with  the  rules  of  inference  specified  by  the 
theory  are  logically  determined.  Thus  the  principle  of  in- 
determinacy, among  others,  is  part  of  a  total  physical  theory 

82    /    Determmism  and  Freedom 

that  in  its  functioning  provides  determined  results  of  a  type 
it  is  competent  to  reach.  If  it  proves  successful  in  dealing  with 
observational  facts,  it  is  not  because  "causality  fails  for  small 
objects"  but  because  man's  creative  intellectual  ingenuity  has 
found  one  more  means  for  dealing  effectively  through  his 
inferences  with  the  data  of  his  experience. 

Chapter  3 

The  Case  for  Indeterminism 

Alfred  Lande,  Ohio  State  University 

Professor  Bridgman  has  painted  a  lively  picture  of  the  strife 
about  determinism.  It  is  a  strife  not  so  much  about  empirical 
facts  as  about  the  interpretation  of  facts.  Many  consider  de- 
terminism the  only  rational  interpretation — if  not  an  aprioris- 
tic  category  of  the  mind.  They  v/ould  admit  indeterminacy 
in  modern  physics  only  as  a  temporary  expedient  adapted  to 
our  present  incapacity  to  predict  microphysical  events,  an 
incapacity  that  may  be  overcome  by  future  technical  develop- 
ments. In  opposition  to  this  view  I  agree  with  Bridgman 
when  he  said:  "it  makes  sense  that  causality  should  fail  for 
small  objects."  But  I  would  go  even  further  and  maintain  that, 
irrespective  of  any  possible  future  technical  developments, 
determinism  does  not  and  never  will  make  sense,^  in  particu- 
lar when  applied  to  those  random-like  situations  we  know 
from  games  of  chance.  The  question  is,  of  course,  whether 
there  are  true  games  of  chance,  i.e.,  random-like  situations 
that  are  irreducible  to  concealed  causes  in  principle.  In  this 
argument  about  principles  it  makes  little  difference  whether 
the  random-like  situations  are  those  encovmtered  in  atomic 
experiments,  in  dice  games,  or  in  the  games  insurance  com- 
panies play  with  their  clients.  Therefore  I  shall  have  to  extend 
our  topic  from  determinism  in  modern  science  to  natural 
science  in  general.  My  excuse  for  this  deviation  is  Bridgman's 
own  declaration:  "It  is  to  be  expected  that  the  roots  of  the  dif- 
ficulties revealed  to  us  by  quantum  theory  are  already  present 
in  the  sphere  of  ordinary  life,  and  should  be  discoverable  by 
acute  enough  analysis."  Let  us  therefore  analyze  an  example 
taken  from  ordinary  life. 

Imagine  a  game  of  balls  dropped  through  a  chute  onto  a 
knife  edge.  The  angle  of  aim  a  may  be  adjusted  by  a  screw, 
and  the  knife  edge  may  be  sharp  or  slightly  rounded.  If  the 
chute  is  aimed  at  the  right  (left)  of  center,  all  balls  will  drop 
to  the  right  (left).  Experience  shows,  however,  that  between 

1  Cf .  the  critique  of  determinism  by  K.  R.  Popper,  Brit.  J.  Philos.  Science 
1,  Nos.  2  and  3. 


84    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

right-  and  left-hand  aim  there  is  always  a  small  but  finite 
range  Aa  of  aim  within  which  an  experimentally  adjusted 
angle  a  leads  neither  to  all  balls  dropping  to  the  right  nor  to 
all  balls  dropping  to  the  left  but  rather  to  both  r-  and  /-balls 
occurring  at  a  certain  frequency  ratio.  The  latter  varies  from 
100  :  0  to  0  :  100  when  the  aim  is  shifted  from  the  right  to 
the  left  of  the  small  range  Ao.  Primitive  persons  and  other  in- 
determinists  will  interpret  this  as  a  sign  of  uncertainty,  of 
blind  fate,  with  one  and  the  same  cause  capable  of  being  fol- 
lowed by  two  different  effects,  r  or  /.  Determinists  will  say, 
however:  "The  distribution  of  the  r-  and  /-results  only  appears 
to  be  erratic.  Actually  each  individual  result  has  its  particular 
deterministic  cause,  be  it  a  small  deviation  of  the  angle  of 
aim,  or  a  small  perturbation  of  the  ball  on  its  flight."  (Simi- 
larly, although  insurance  companies  count  on  their  frequency 
tables,  each  individual  "accident"  is  not  an  accident  but  has 
its  particular  cause.) 

I  submit,  however,  that  the  hypothesis  of  (concealed)  indi- 
vidual causes  behind  individual  effects  r  or  /  does  not  explain 
the  essential  point  of  the  observed  situation  in  a  deterministic 
fashion.  When  the  determinist  ascribes  the  present  final  event 
r  to  an  r-producing  chain  .  .  .  r  r  r  reaching  back  into  the  in- 
finite past,  he  merely  shifts  the  problem  r-  and  /-events  to  r- 
and  /-chains  and,  further,  to  the  beginning  of  those  chains,  if 
they  have  a  beginning.  We  must  ask  him  now  for  a  determin- 
istic explanation  of  the  strange  empirical  observation  that 
those  chains,  or  initial  conditions,  occur  again  and  again  at 
Va  definite  frequency  ratio  and,  furthermore,  why  even  the 
'  fluctuations  away  from  the  average  occur  at  a  rate  conforming 
i  with  the  mathematical  theory  of  random  as  though  by  a  pre- 
-established harmony  between  fact  and  theory.  It  is  this  pre- 
fstablished  harmony  that  calls  for  explanation.  Referring  to 
ithe  infinite  past,  and  saying  that  his  harmony  has  always  pre- 
vailed, is  an  evasion  rather  than  a  deterministic  explanation. 
A  stubborn  determinist  may  defend  his  cause,  however,  by 
means  of  the  following  argument:  "Once  upon  a  time  there 
was  a  demon  who  knew  his  mathematical  random  theory 
and  who  deliberately  went  out  to  deceive  the  observer. 
He  first  initiated  two  /--chains,  then  an  /-chain,  then  four 
r-chains;  then  realizing  that  he  had  given  too  much  pre- 
ponderance to  r-chains,  he  thereupon  started  five  /-chains 
in  a  row,  cleverly  arranging  the  whole  sequence  with 
averages  and  fluctuations  so  that  a  present-day  scientist 
might   be   lured    away   from   the   true   deterministic    faith." 

The  Case  for  Indeterminism    /    85 

There  seems  indeed  to  be  only  the  following  alternative: 
Either  the  observed  random-like  distributions  of  final  events 
or  chains  or  initial  conditions  in  games  of  chance  repre- 
sent a  basic  and  irreducible  trait  of  nature.  Or  statistical  dis- 
tributions only  feign  an  appearance  of  random,  when  in  real- 
ity there  is,  or  has  been,  concerted  deterministic  action.  Either 
a  deus  ex  machina  or  no  deteministic  explanation  at  all.  Since 
deceitful  demons  have  no  place  in  scientific  theories,  I  have 
reluctantly  joined  the  party  of  indeterminacy  pure  and 
simple.  But  I  concede,  that  it  is  a  party  of  renunciation  with  a 
purely  negative  creed.  Most  of  my  partisans,  including  my- 
self, suffer  from  a  guilt  complex  that  draws  us  toward  our  old 
infatuation,  determinism.  This  infatuation  may  have  its  roots 
in  a  feeling  of  being  ourselves  demons  who  can  deliberately 
start  deterministic  chains.  In  other  words,  it  may  be  that  we 
believe  in  strict  determinism  because  we  feel  we  have  free  wUl 
— a  somewhat  paradoxical  psychological  hypothesis.  But  as  a 
scientist  who  observes  games  of  chance,  and  who  is  unwilling 
to  admit  a  deus  ex  machina  (at  the  beginning  of  time,  if  there 
is  a  beginning,  or  a  finite  time  ago),  I  must  concede  that  the 
deterministic  interpretation  fails;  and  this  applies  not  only  to 
ordinary  "games  of  chance"  in  which  the  statistical  dispersion 
is  obvious,  but  in  general  to  those  cases  where  a  similar  dis- 
persion of  effects  is  revealed  only  by  microphysical  in- 

Empirically  it  is  a  most  surprising  fact,  which  could  not 
have  been  foreseen  a  priori,  that  there  are  sequences  of  events 
in  harmony  with  mathematical  random  theory.  This  empirical 
discovery  was  already  made  by  cavemen  when  they  gambled 
for  the  best  pieces  of  a  slain  bear.  But  when  irreducible  ran- 
dom is  once  accepted,  then  it  is  a  comparatively  minor  point 
of  dispute  whether  (a)  each  new  experiment  constitutes  a  new 
game  of  chance  (as  quantum  theory  maintains),  or  {b)  ran- 
dom was  set  up  once,  a  long  or  an  infinite  time  ago,  and  ran- 
dom distributions  observed  at  present  are  but  the  deterministic 
effects  of  that  one  initial  "shuffling  of  the  cards"  (as  classical 
statistical  mechanics  maintains).  The  difference  between  the 
two  positions  may  be  illustrated  by  the  example  of  a  great 
number  of  arrows  laid  out  as  radii  of  a  circle.  Each  individual 
arrow  has  its  definite  x-  and  y-component,  positive  or  nega- 
tive. Suppose  that  the  arrows  are  distributed  over  all  directions 
in  a  random-like  fashion,  with  or  without  the  help  of  a  demon. 
When  viewing  this  ensemble  through  a  circular  glass  disk,  the 
northern  half  of  which  is  transparent  and  the  southern  half 

86    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

opaque,  one  observes  a  statistical  50  :  50  ratio  between  visible 
and  invisible  arrows.  The  same  ratio  of  visible  to  invisible  ar- 
rows will  be  observed  when  the  disk  is  held  in  the  NE-SW- 
direction  or  in  any  other  direction  whatsoever.  The  frequency 
ratios  in  all  these  instances  are  deterministic  consequences  of 
the  one  original  random  distribution  over  all  directions  within 
the  circle.  Also,  when  an  individual  arrow  of  given  x-  and 
given  y-  component  is  viewed  through  our  glass  disk  held  in  a 
given  orientation,  then  it  is  predictable  whether  this  arrow  will 
be  found  belonging  to  the  visible  or  the  invisible  group  in  that 
particular  orientation  of  the  disk.  This  is  an  illustration  of  the 
classical  situation.  Since  it  requires  random  mixing  at  least 
once,  it  is  a  soft  determinism  at  most. 

Suppose  now  that  our  arrows  are  of  microscopic  magnitude 
and  represent  the  spin  directions  of  electrons.  In  this  case  not 
even  a  demon  can  lay  out  various  spins  in  a  variety  of  chosen 
directions  simultaneously.  Electronic  arrows  (spin  directions) 
can  only  be  laid  out  by  means  of  a  linear  slit  (a  magnetic 
field).  When  the  slit  is  held  in  the  N5-direction  the  arrows  will 
assume  only  the  A^-  and/ or  5-direction.  If  the  arrows  are  now 
subjected  to  a  new  orientation  test  by  means  of  a  slit  of  NE- 
5fF-direction,  each  arrow  has  to  jump  from  its  original  N-  or 
5-direction  either  to  the  NE-  or  to  the  5Pr-direction.  The  in- 
deterministic  character  of  these  jumps  is  proved,  according  to 
our  former  argument,  by  the  mere  fact  that  each  new  slit  ex- 
periment actually  yields  a  new  statistical  frequency  ratio  be- 
tween opposite  arrows  that,  together  with  averages  and  fluctu- 
ations, conforms  with  the  mathematical  theory  of  random 
events.  In  the  present  instance  the  subsequent  N  :  S  and  NE  : 
SW  ratios  cannot  be  regarded  as  deterministic  consequences 
of  an  original  random  distribution  over  all  directions,  since 
each  new  slit  experiment  collects  all  arrows  within  two  op- 
posite directions  only.  Each  new  test  is  an  independent  game 
of  chance  in  which  it  is  unpredictable  whether  a  given  arrow 
will  choose  one  or  the  opposite  direction.  This  is  the  obvious 
and  trivial  inference  from  the  fact,  discovered  by  quantum 
physicists,  that  there  are  mutually  incompatible  quantities 
such  as  X-  and  j-components  of  an  electronic  spin  vector  (or 
an  j:-component  of  position  and  an  a:-component  of  momen- 
tum of  any  particle),  so  that  one  cannot  provide  an  original 
random-like  outlay  of  spins  over  all  directions. 

Quantum  theorists,  however,  do  not  seem  to  cherish  such 
simple  and  elementary  considerations,  since  they  always  refer 
to  J.  von  Neumann's  proof  that  quantum  theory  has  no  room 

The  Case  for  Indeterminism    /    87 

for  concealed  causal  mechanisms.  But  what  did  von  Neumann 
do  to  prove  this  result?  He  first  introduced  the  whole  involved 
apparatus  of  the  quantum  theory,  thereby  lifting  us  to  a  highly 
exalted  plane.  In  this  lofty  atmosphere  he  carried  out  certain 
calculations,  then  brought  his  results  back  to  earth  again — 
when  he  could  have  stayed  there  all  the  time.  Yet  when  von 
Neumann's  conclusions  were  recently  found  to  suffer  from  the 
fault  of  circularity,  the  determinists  took  heart  again.  Let  it  be 
said,  however,  that  irrespective  of  von  Neumarm  and  irrespec- 
tive of  the  technicalities  of  quantum  mechanics,  the  mere  ex- 
istence of  mutually  incompatible  quantities  a  and  b  that  re- 
quire statistical  redistributions  in  consecutive  a-  and  6-tests 
leaves  us  no  other  alternative  than  either  to  assume  a  demon 
who  feigns  pseudo-random,  or  to  concede  that  the  harmony 
between  statistical  fact  and  random  theory  is  deterministically 

The  wide  acclaim  that  von  Neumann's  (inconclusive)  proof 
has  found  among  theoretical  physicists  is  symptomatic  of  the 
present  vogue  for  considering  quantum  mechanics  with  all  its 
subtleties,  wave-particle  antinomies,  and  bewildering  mathe- 
matical prescriptions  as  the  ultimate  and  irreducible  ground 
structure,  the  deepest  bottom  of  theoretical  analysis.  This 
fundamentalist  dogma  is  quite  in  opposition  to  Bridgman's 
and  my  own  view  that  the  enigmatic  quantum  laws  ought  to 
be  explainable  as  consequences  of  more  fundamental  laws 
having  their  roots  in  the  experiences  of  everyday  life.  In  order 
to  support  this  view  I  should  like  to  ask  my  determinist  op- 
ponents: "Do  you  accept  the  principle,  abstracted  from  every- 
day experience,  that  a  finite  effect  calls  for  a  finite  cause,  that 
a  finite  change  of  effect  can  never  be  produced  by  an  infinitely 
small  change  of  cause?  If  you  accept  this  principle  of  con- 
tinuity of  Leibnitz,  you  have  already  lost  your  case!" 

To  return  to  our  ball-knife  game;  If  the  chute  is  aimed  at 
the  right  (left)  of  the  knife  edge,  then  all  balls  will  drop  to  the 
right  (left)  of  the  knife.  But  suppose  that  the  angle  a  of  aim 
is  gradually  shifted  from  right  to  left.  Will  this  lead  to  an 
abrupt  change  of  effect,  from  all  balls  dropping  to  the  left, 
at  the  moment  when  the  aim  passes  the  center?  If  so,  it  would 
constitute  a  violation  of  the  postulate  of  continuity.  According 
to  this  postulate  there  ought  to  be  a  finite  range  Aa  of  transi- 
tion from  the  one  extreme  case  to  the  other — a  range  Ao 
within  a  given  angle  a  of  aim  leads  to  the  dropping  of  a  nu- 
merical fraction  of  all  balls  to  the  right  and  of  the  remaining 
fraction  to  the  left.  This  is  exactly  the  situation  observed,  dis- 

88    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

cussed  previously.  The  postulate  of  continuity  thus  leads  to 
the  same  statistical  situation  by  inference  that  we  have  ac- 
cepted before  simply  as  a  strange  matter  of  fact  discovered  by 

A  slight  variant  of  the  game  of  dropping  balls  on  a  knife 
edge  leads  to  a  vi'ell-knovi'n  phenomenon  of  quantum  physics. 
Consider  a  stream  of  particles  incident  on  a  filter  of  some 
sort  where  they  have  to  choose  between  passing  and  not  pass- 
ing. Let  us  define  an  /4 -filter  as  an  instrument  that  passes  the 
incident  particles  when  they  are  in  the  state  A  and  rejects 
them  when  they  are  in  a  state  different  from  A .  Suppose,  first, 
that  our  particles  are  in  a  state  A  and  that  we  now  modify 
them  to  a  state  B  differing  from  A  by  some  amount,  however 
small.  Are  we  to  expect  that  this  infinitely  small  change  of 
state  will  abruptly  convert  all  passing  particles  into  blocked 
particles?  According  to  the  continuity  principle  there  ought  to 
be  a  gradual  transition  from  the  case  B  =  A,  with  all  B's 
passed,  to  the  case  B  =  A,  with  all  B's  rejected  by  the  A- 
filter.  That  is,  there  ought  to  be  intermediate  cases  of  a 
"fractional  equality,"  written  B  —  A,  in  which  neither  all  B's 
pass  nor  all  are  blocked — cases,  then,  in  which  a  "splitting" 
of  the  incident  B-state  particles  into  a  passing  and  a  blocked 
fraction  takes  place.  The  continuity  postulate  in  application 
to  the  sharp  contrast  between  equality  and  inequality  thus 
leads  to  the  same  "splitting  effect"  by  inference  that  quantum 
physicists  have  discovered  by  delicate  microphysical  experi- 

Let  us  further  introduce  the  principle  of  reproducibility  of 
the  result  of  a  measurement.  In  the  above  experiment  it  re- 
quires that  a  B -state  particle  that  has  passed  the  /4 -filter  once 
will  pass  an  /I -filter  again,  the  second  time  with  certainty; 
that  is,  the  S-particle  must  have  "jumped"  in  its  first  passage 
to  the  new  state  A  where  it  now  remains  (unless  thrown  into 
another  state  by  a  third  test  by  means  of  a  B-  or  C-filter). 
Similarly,  a  B-particle  once  rejected  by  the  /i -filter  will  be 
rejected  again  in  another  /l-filter  test;  that  is,  it  must  have 
jumped  from  the  state  B  to  a  state  non-A,  completely  differ- 
ent from  A.  The  observation  that  there  is  a  definite  statistical 
frequency  ratio  between  passed  and  blocked  particles  shows, 
according  to  our  previous  argument,  that  those  "quantum 
jumps"  from  B  to  A  and/ or  non-A  represent  a  true  game  of 
chance  that  cannot  be  referred  to  hidden  deterministic  causes. 

One  may  supplement  the  postulate  of  continuity  and  repro- 
ducibility by  a  few  other  postulates  of  a  simple  and  elementary 

The  Case  for  Indeterminism    /    89 

sort  and  from  there  arrive  by  inference  at  the  mathematical 
and  conceptual  schema  known  today  as  the  quantum  theory  ^ 
— thereby  confirming  Bridgman's  opinion  that  the  roots  of 
this  theory  should  be  discoverable  in  the  sphere  of  ordinary 
experience,  and  also  confirming  the  statistical  interpretation 
of  Bom,  Heisenberg,  and  Bohr.  When  the  first  surprising 
quantimi  facts,  such  as  E  =  hv,  were  brought  to  light,  the 
theorists  tried  to  explain  them  on  the  grounds  of  accepted 
principles  of  mechanics.  When  this  attempt  proved  a  failure, 
quantum  theory  with  its  various  rules  and  prescriptions  was 
finally  accepted  as  not  further  reducible,  as  "fundamental."  It 
also  seemed  so  very  convenient  to  listen  to  the  positivistic 
siren  song,  that  physicists  should  observe  and  describe,  and 
not  question  why  things  are  as  they  are.  The  negative  attitude 
is  accompanied  today  by  ever  repeated  exhortations  that  the 
principle  of  complementarity  is  the  most  profound  and  sub- 
lime law  of  nature,  applicable  not  only  to  microphysics  but 
also  to  biology,  psychology,  and  lately  even  to  the  relation 
between  the  sexes  and  among  political  power  groups.  In  op- 
position to  this  cult  it  is  hoped  that  the  recently  revived  search 
for  simple  and  general  postulates  underlying  quantum  theory 
may  bring  us  one  step  nearer  the  goal  of  aU  scientific  en- 
deavor, which,  according  to  a  weU-coined  phrase  of  Bridg- 
man's, is  the  goal  of  satisfying  our  curiosity. 

'  A.  Lande.  Brit.  J.  Philos  Set.,  6,  300,  1956.  Also  Foundations  of  Quantum 
Theory,  A  Study  in  Continuity  and  Symmetry  (New  Haven:  Yale  University 
Press,  1955). 

^er  4 

Determinism  and  the  Cosmos 

Dennis  W.  Sciama,  Trinity  College,  Cambridge 

As  A  PHYSICIST  I  have  found  the  following  working  hypothesis 
very  useful:  violent  controversy  about  a  scientific  problem 
is  a  sign  that  some  simple  essential  consideration  is  missing. 
The  polemic,  as  it  were,  tries  to  substitute  for  the  missing 
point,  but  of  course  it  never  can.  I  think  for  instance  that  this 
has  been  so  in  discussions  of  Mach's  principle  of  the  origin 
of  inertia,  and  also  of  the  problem  deducing  irreversible 
macroscopic  behavior  from  reversible  microscopic  laws. 

Bridgman  has  reminded  us  that  the  physicists  are  con- 
ducting a  violent  controversy  about  the  meaning  of  quantum 
mechanics.  This  situation  is  in  striking  contrast  to  that  pre- 
vailing in  classical  mechanics;  for  although  classical  me- 
chanics is  known  to  be  false,  there  is  no  dispute  as  to  its 
meaning.  It  is  only  in  quantum  mechanics  (which  is  known 
to  be  true!)  that  there  is  such  a  dispute.  Application  of  the 
working  hypothesis  suggests  that  some  simple  point  has  still 
to  be  made.  My  aim  in  these  remarks  is  to  propose  one  pos- 
sibility for  this  simple  point,  a  proposal  based  mainly  on  the 
work  of  Dr.  K.  V.  Roberts. 

The  basic  way  in  which  quantum  mechanics  differs  from 
classical  mechanics  is  the  following:  our  inferences  about  the 
future  must  be  expressed  in  terms  of  probabilities.  This  intro- 
duction of  probability  would  enable  us  to  make  the  calcula- 

With  this  state  of  affairs  in  mind,  let  us  make  a  new 
assumption.  Let  us  suppose  that  in  nature  systems  are  deter- 
ministic in  the  sense  that  we  can  calculate  the  state  of  a 
system  at  time  t  if  we  know  enough  boundary  conditions  re- 
ferring to  times  other  than  t;  but  let  us  differ  from  classical 
mechanics  by  supposing  that  nature  is  so  constructed  that, 
roughly  speaking,  half  the  boundary  conditions  must  refer  to 
the  past  and  half  to  the  future  of  the  moment  t.  In  other 
words,  we  assume  that  nature  is  such  that  "mixed"  boundary 
conditions  are  always  needed. 

Presumably  a  system  with  such  properties  would  be  called 
deterministic.  This  is  a  matter  of  definition,  of  course;  what 
is  really  important  is  that  the  behavior  of  the  system  is  as 


Determinism  and  the  Cosmos    /    91 

well  defined  and  intelligible  as  that  of  a  system  obeying  classi- 
cal mechanics.  But  now  we  must  ask:  How  would  a  "mixed" 
system  appear  to  an  observer  who  himself  is  part  of  the 

Now,  such  an  observer,  for  reasons  that  cannot  be  elabo- 
rated here  but  that  have  to  do  with  the  second  law  of 
thermodynamics,  is  acquainted  only  with  the  past.  Hence  if 
he  attempts  to  calculate  the  state  of  a  system  at  a  time  t  in 
his  future,  he  will  find  that  he  cannot  do  so,  for  he  does  not 
know  all  the  boundary  conditions.  His  knowledge  of  the  past 
boundary  conditions  will  delimit  the  possibilities  considera- 
bly, but  it  is  clear  that  to  the  observer  the  system  will  appear 
to  contain  indeterminate  elements. 

What  sort  of  a  theory  wUl  such  an  observer  devise?  In  effect 
he  will  be  forced  to  average  over  all  those  future  boundary 
conditions  that  are  compatible  with  his  present  knowledge. 
(Of  course,  at  first  he  will  not  realize  that  this  is  what  he  is 
doing.)  That  is  to  say,  he  will  be  forced  to  introduce  a 
probability  calculus  to  account  for  his  observations.  The 
suggestion  is  that  this  probability  calculus  is  just  quantum 

In  this  way  the  correctness  of  quantum  mechanics  can  be 
reconciled  with  a  deterministic  universe.  In  the  language  of 
von  Neumann,  there  are  hidden  variables;  they  escape  his  ban 
because  they  refer  to  the  future. 

We  are  now  in  a  position  to  answer  the  question:  Is  quan- 
tum mechanical  probability  subjective  or  objective?  We  have 
seen  that  the  probability  arises  from  the  observer's  ignorance 
of  some  of  the  determining  conditions.  The  probability  is 
therefore  subjective. 

So  far  the  discussion  has  been  academic  in  the  sense  that 
no  new  physical  results  have  emerged.  However  there  is  an 
interesting  possibility  in  this  direction.  For  on  the  view  pre- 
sented here  quantum  mechanics  is  no  longer  a  primitive 
theory;  it  is  a  formalism  that  is  derived  from  a  more  basic 
theory.  Now,  Planck's  constant,  h,  is  a  measure  of  the 
"amount"  of  deviation  from  classical  mechanics.  In  quantum 
mechanics  as  it  stands  today  the  numerical  value  of  this  con- 
stant is  completely  arbitrary.  However,  if  quantum  mechanics 
is  deducible  from  a  more  basic  theory,  then  presumably  h, 
which  is  here  a  measure  of  our  ignorance  of  the  future,  will  be 
expressed  in  terms  of  quantities  fundamental  to  the  basic 
theory.  Such  a  relation  could  be  tested  experimentally,  and 
so  the  theory  could  be  checked. 

PART    ill 

m   L@w  mnd   Etiiics 

Chapter  1 

Legal  Resporaslbiiify  csnd   Excuses 

H.  L.  A.  Hart,  Oxford  University 

It  is  characteristic  of  our  own  and  all  advanced  legal  sys- 
tems that  the  individual's  liability  to  punishment,  at  any  rate 
for  serious  crimes  carrying  severe  penalties,  is  made  by  law 
to  depend  on,  among  other  things,  certain  mental  conditions. 
These  conditions  can  best  be  expressed  in  negative  form  as 
excusing  conditions :  the  individual  is  not  liable  to  punishment 
if  at  the  time  of  his  doing  what  would  otherwise  be  a  punish- 
able act  he  is,  say,  unconscious,  mistaken  about  the  physical 
consequences  of  his  bodily  movements  or  the  nature  or  quali- 
ties of  the  thing  or  persons  affected  by  them,  or,  in  some 
cases,  if  he  is  subjected  to  threats  or  other  gross  forms  of 
coercion  or  is  the  victim  of  certain  types  of  mental  disease. 
This  is  a  list,  not  meant  to  be  complete,  giving  broad  descrip- 
tions of  the  principal  excusing  conditions;  the  exact  definition 
of  these  and  their  precise  character  and  scope  must  be  sought 
in  the  detailed  exposition  of  our  criminal  law.  If  an  individual 
breaks  the  law  when  none  of  the  excusing  conditions  are 
present,  he  is  ordinarily  said  to  have  acted  of  "his  own  free 
wUl,"  "of  his  own  accord,"  "voluntarily";  or  it  might  be  said, 
"He  could  have  helped  doing  what  he  did."  If  the  determin- 
ist  ^  has  anything  to  say  on  this  subject,  it  must  be  because  he 

^  Earlier  papers  in  this  session  will  doubtless  Iiave  specified  the  variety  of 
theories  or  claims  that  shelter  under  the  label  "determinism."  For  many  pur- 
poses it  is  necessary  to  distinguish  among  them,  especially  on  the  question 
whether  the  elements  in  human  conduct  that  are  said  to  be  "determined" 
are  regarded  as  the  product  of  sufficient  conditions,  or  sets  of  jointly  sufficient 
conditions,  which  include  the  individual's  character.  I  think,  however,  that  the 
defense  I  make  in  this  paper  of  the  rationality,  moraUty,  and  justice  of  quali- 
fying criminal  responsibility  by  excusing  conditions  will  be  compatible  with 
any  form  of  determinism  that  satisfies  the  two  following  sets  of  requirements. 

A.  The  determinist  must  not  deny  (a)  those  empirical  facts  that  at  present 
we  treat  as  proper  grounds  for  saying,  "He  did  what  he  chose,"  "His  choice 
was  effective,"  "He  got  what  he  chose,"  "That  was  the  result  of  his  choice," 
etc;  (b)  the  fact  that  when  we  get  what  we  chose  to  have,  live  our  lives  as 
we  have  chosen,  and  particularly  when  we  obtain  by  a  choice  what  we  have 
judged  to  be  the  lesser  of  two  evils,  this  is  a  source  of  satisfaction;  (c)  the 
fact  that  we  are  often  able  to  predict  successfully  and  on  reasonable  evidence 


96    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

makes  two  claims.  The  first  claim  is  that  it  may  be  true — 
though  we  camiot  at  present  and  may  never  be  able  to  show 
that  it  is  true — that  human  conduct  (including  in  that  expres- 
sion not  only  actions  involving  the  movements  of  the  human 
body  but  its  psychological  elements  or  components  such  as 
decisions,  choices,  experiences  of  desire,  effort,  etc.)  is  sub- 
ject to  certain  types  of  law,  where  law  is  to  be  understood  in 
the  sense  of  a  scientific  law.  The  second  claim  is  that,  if 
human  conduct  so  understood  is  in  fact  subject  to  such  laws 
(though  at  the  present  time  we  do  not  know  it  to  be  so), 
the  distinction  we  draw  between  one  who  acts  under  excusing 
conditions  and  one  who  acts  when  none  are  present  becomes 
imimportant,  if  not  absurd.  Consequently,  to  allow  punish- 
ment to  depend  on  the  presence  or  absence  of  excusing  con- 
ditions, or  to  think  it  justified  when  they  are  absent  but  not 
when  they  are  present,  is  absurd,  meaningless,  irrational,  or 
unjust,  or  immoral,  or  perhaps  all  of  these. 

My  principal  object  in  this  paper  is  to  draw  attention  to 
the  analogy  between  conditions  that  are  treated  by  criminal 
law  as  excusing  conditions  and  certain  similar  conditions  that 
are  treated  in  another  branch  of  the  law  as  invalidating  cer- 
tain civil  transactions  such  as  wills,  gifts,  contracts,  and  mar- 
riages. If  we  consider  this  analogy,  I  think  we  can  see  that 
there  is  a  rationale  for  our  insistence  on  the  importance  of 
excusing  conditions  in  criminal  law  that  no  form  of  determin- 
ism that  I,  at  any  rate,  can  construct  could  impugn;  and  this 
rationale  seems  to  me  superior  at  many  points  to  the  two 
main  accounts  or  explanations  that  in  Anglo-American  juris- 
prudence have  been  put  forward  as  the  basis  of  the  recogni- 
tion of  excusing  conditions  in  criminal  responsibility. 

In  this  preliminary  section,  however,  I  want  to  explain  why 
I  shall  not  undertake  the  analysis  or  elucidation  of  the  mean- 
ing of  such  expressions  as  "He  did  it  voluntarily,"  "He  acted 
of  his  own  free  will,"  "He  could  have  helped  doing  it,"  "He 

that  our  choice  will  be  eSectiye  over  certain  periods  in  relation  to  certain 

B.  The  determinlst  does  not  assert  and  could  not  truly  assert  that  we  al- 
ready know  the  laws  that  he  says  may  exist  or  (in  some  versions)  must  exist. 
Determinists  diflEer  on  the  question  whether  or  not  the  laws  are  sufficiently 
simple  (a)  for  human  beings  to  discover,  (fc)  for  human  beings  to  use  for 
the  prediction  of  their  own  and  others'  conduct.  But  as  long  as  It  is  not 
asserted  that  we  know  these  laws  I  do  not  think  this  difference  of  opinion 
important  here.  Of  course  If  we  knew  the  laws  and  could  use  them  for  the 
detailed  and  exact  prediction  of  our  own  and  others'  conduct,  deliberation 
and  choice  would  become  pointless,  and  perhaps  in  such  circumstances  there 
could  not  (logically)  be  "deliberation"  or  "choice." 

Legal  ResponsibUity  and  Excuses     /    97 

could  have  done  otherwise,"  I  do  not,  of  course,  think  the  an- 
alysis of  these  terms  unimportant:  indeed  I  think  we  owe  the 
progress  that  has  been  made,  at  least  in  determining  what 
the  "free  will  problem"  is,  to  the  work  of  philosophers  who 
have  pursued  this  analysis.  Perhaps  it  may  be  shown  that 
statements  of  the  form  "He  did  it  of  his  own  free  will"  or 
"He  could  have  done  otherwise,"  etc.,  are  not  logically  incom- 
patible with  the  existence  of  the  type  of  laws  the  determinist 
claims  may  exist;  if  they  do  exist,  it  may  not  follow  that 
statements  of  the  kind  quoted  are  always  false,  for  it  may  be 
that  these  statements  are  true  given  certain  conditions,  which 
need  not  include  the  nonexistence  of  any  such  laws. 

Here,  however,  I  shall  not  attempt  to  carry  further  any 
such  inquiries  into  the  meaning  of  these  expressions  or  to 
press  the  view  I  have  urged  elsewhere,  that  the  expression 
"voluntary  action"  is  best  understood  as  excluding  the  pres- 
ence of  the  various  excuses.  So  I  will  not  deal  here  with  a 
determinist  who  is  so  incautious  as  to  say  that  it  may  be  false 
that  anyone  has  ever  acted  "voluntarily,"  "of  his  own  free 
wUl,"  or  "could  have  done  otherwise  than  he  did."  It  will 
help  clarify  our  conception  of  criminal  responsibihty,  I  think, 
if  I  confront  a  more  cautious  skeptic  who,  without  commit- 
ting himself  as  to  the  meaning  of  those  expressions  or  their 
logical  or  linguistic  dependence  on,  or  independence  of,  the 
negation  of  those  types  of  law  to  which  the  determinist  refers, 
yet  criticizes  our  allocation  of  responsibility  by  reference  to 
excusing  conditions.  This  more  cautious  determinist  says  that, 
whatever  the  expressions  "voluntary"  etc.  may  mean,  unless 
we  have  reasonable  grounds  for  thinking  there  are  no  such 
laws,  the  distinctions  drawn  by  these  expressions  cannot  be 
regarded  as  of  any  importance,  and  there  can  be  neither  rea- 
son nor  justice  in  allowing  punishment  to  depend  on  the  pres- 
ence or  absence  of  excusing  conditions. 


In  the  criminal  law  of  every  modern  state  responsibility  for 
serious  crimes  is  excluded  or  "diminished"  by  some  of  the 
conditions  we  have  referred  to  as  "excusing  conditions."  In 
Anglo-American  criminal  law  this  is  the  doctrine  that  a  "sub- 
jective element,"  or  "mens  rea,"  is  required  for  criminal  re- 
sponsibility, and  it  is  because  of  this  doctrine  that  a  criminal 
trial  may  involve  investigations  into  the  sanity  of  the  accused, 
into  what  he  knew,  believed,  or  foresaw;  into  the  questions 
whether  or  not  he  was  subject  to  coercion  by  threats  or 

98    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

provoked  into  passion,  or  was  prevented  by  disease  or  transi- 
tory loss  of  consciousness  from  controlling  the  movements  of 
his  body  or  muscles.  These  matters  come  up  under  the  heads 
known  to  lawyers  as  Mistake,  Accident,  Provocation,  Duress, 
and  Insanity,  and  are  most  clearly  and  dramatically  exempli- 
fied when  the  charge  is  one  of  murder  or  manslaughter. 

Though  this  general  doctrine  underlies  the  criminal  law,  no 
legal  system  in  practice  admits  without  qualification  the  prin- 
ciple that  all  criminal  responsibility  is  excluded  by  any  of  the 
excusing  conditions.  In  Anglo-American  law  this  principle  is 
qualified  in  two  ways.  First,  our  law  admits  crimes  of  "strict 
liability."^  These  are  crimes  where  it  is  no  defense  to  show 
that  the  accused,  in  spite  of  the  exercise  of  proper  care,  was 
ignorant  of  the  facts  that  made  his  act  illegal.  Here  he  is 
liable  to  punishment  even  though  he  did  not  intend  to  com- 
mit an  act  answering  the  definition  of  the  crime.  These  are 
for  the  most  part  petty  offences  contravening  statutes  that 
require  the  maintenance  of  standards  in  the  manufacture  of 
goods  sold  for  consumption;  e.g.,  a  statute  forbidding  the  sale 
of  adulterated  milk.  Such  offenses  are  usually  punishable  with 
a  fine  and  are  sometimes  said  by  jurists  who  object  to  strict 
liability  not  to  be  criminal  in  any  "real"  sense.  Secondly,  even 
in  regard  to  crimes  where  liability  is  not  "strict,"  so  that 
mistake  or  accident  rendering  the  accused's  action  uninten- 
tional would  provide  an  excuse,  many  legal  systems  do  not 
accept  some  of  the  other  conditions  we  have  listed  as  ex- 
cluding liability  to  punishment.  This  is  so  for  a  variety  of 

For  one  thing,  it  is  clear  that  not  only  lawyers  but  scientists 
and  plain  men  differ  as  to  the  relevance  of  some  excusing  con- 
ditions, and  this  lack  of  agreement  is  usually  expressed  as  a 
difference  of  view  regarding  what  kind  of  factor  limits  the 
human  capacity  to  control  behavior.  Views  so  expressed  have 
indeed  changed  with  the  advance  of  knowledge  about  the 
human  mind.  Perhaps  most  people  are  now  persuaded  that  it 
is  possible  for  a  man  to  have  volitional  control  of  his  muscles 
and  also  to  know  the  physical  character  of  his  movements 
and  their  consequences  for  himself  and  others,  and  yet  be 
unable  to  resist  the  urge  or  temptation  to  perform  a  certain 
act;  yet  many  think  this  incapacity  exists  only  if  it  is  associ- 

'  For  an  Uluminating  discussion  of  strict  liability,  see  the  opinion  of  Justice 
Jackson  in  Mortsetts  v.  United  States  (1952)  342  U.S.  246;  96  L.  Ed.  288;  78 
S.  Ct.  241.  Also  Sayre,  "PubUc  Welfare  Offences,"  33  Col.  L.  Rev.  58;  Hall, 
Principles  of  Criminal  Law  (Indianapolis:  Bobbs-Merrill  Co.,  1947),  chap.  x. 

Legal  Responsibility  and  Excuses     /    99 

ated  with  well-marked  physiological  or  neurological  symp- 
toms or  independently  definable  psychological  disturbances. 
And  perhaps  there  are  still  some  who  hold  a  modified  form 
of  the  Platonic  doctrine  that  Virtue  is  Knowledge  and  believe 
that  the  possession  of  knowledge  ^  (and  muscular  control)  is 
per  se  a  sufficient  condition  of  the  capacity  to  comply  with 
the  law.* 

Another  reason  limiting  the  scope  of  the  excusing  condi- 
tions is  difficulty  of  proof.  Some  of  the  mental  elements  in- 
volved are  much  easier  to  prove  than  others.  It  is  relatively 
simple  to  show  that  an  agent  lacked  either  generally  or  on  a 
particular  occasion  volitional  muscular  control;  it  is  somewhat 
more  difficult  to  show  that  he  did  not  know  certain  facts 
either  about  present  circumstances  (e.g.,  that  a  gun  was 
loaded)  or  the  future  (that  a  man  would  step  into  the  line 
of  fire);  it  is  much  more  difficult  to  establish  whether  or  not 
a  person  was  deprived  of  "self-control"  by  passion  provoked 
by  others,  or  by  partial  mental  disease.  As  we  consider  these 
different  cases,  not  only  do  we  reach  much  vaguer  concepts, 
but  we  become  progressively  more  dependent  on  the  agent's 
own  statements  about  himself,  buttressed  by  inferences  from 
common-sense  generalizations  about  human  nature,  such  as 
that  men  are  capable  of  self-control  when  confronted  with  an 
open  till  but  not  when  confronted  with  a  wife  in  adultery.  The 
law  is  accordingly  much  more  cautious  in  admitting  "defects 
of  the  will"  than  "defect  in  knowledge"  as  qualifying  or  ex- 
cluding criminal  responsibility.  Further  difficulties  of  proof 
may  cause  a  legal  system  to  limit  its  inquiry  into  the  agent's 
"subjective  condition"  by  asking  what  a  "reasonable  man" 
would  in  the  circumstances  have  known  or  foreseen,  or  by 
asking  whether  "a  reasonable  man"  in  the  circimistances 
would  have  been  deprived  (say,  by  provocation)  of  self- 
control;  and  the  system  may  then  impute  to  the  agent  such 
knowledge  or  foresight  or  control.' 

'  This  view  is  often  defended  by  the  assertion  that  the  mind  is  an  "inte- 
grated whole,"  that  if  the  capacity  for  self-control  is  absent,  knowledge  must 
also  be  absent.  See  Hall,  op.  cit.,  p.  524:  "Diseased  volition  does  not  exist 
apart  from  diseased  intelligence";  also  reference  to  the  "integration  theory," 
chap.  xiv. 

*  English  judges  have  taken  different  sides  on  the  issue  whether  a  man  can 
be  said  to  have  "lost  self-control,"  and  kiUed  another  while  in  that  condition, 
if  he  knew  what  he  was  doing  and  killed  his  victim  intentionally.  See  Holmes 
V.  D.P.P.  (1946)  A.C.  597  (Lord  Simon)  and  A.G.  for  Ceylon  v.  Kumaras- 
Inghege  v.   Don  John  Perera   (1953)    A.C.  200   (Lord   Goddard). 

^  But  see  for  a  defense  of  the  "reasonable  man"  test  (in  cases  of  alleged 
provocation)  Royal  Commission  on  Capital  Punishment,  pp.  51-56  (S§ 
139-145).  This  defense  is  not  confined  to  the  difficulties  of  proof. 

100    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

For  these  practical  reasons  no  simple  identification  of  the 
necessary  mental  subjective  elements  in  responsibility,  with 
the  fuU  list  of  excusing  conditions,  can  be  made;  and  in  all 
systems  far  greater  prominence  is  given  to  the  more  easily 
provable  elements  of  volitional  control  of  muscular  movement 
and  knowledge  of  circumstances  or  consequences  than  to  the 
other  more  elusive  elements. 

Hence  it  is  true  that  legal  recognition  of  the  importance  of 
excusing  conditions  is  never  unqualified;  the  law,  like  every 
other  human  institution,  has  to  compromise  with  other  values 
besides  whatever  value  is  incorporated  in  the  recognition  of 
some  conditions  as  excusing.  Sometimes,  of  course,  it  is  not 
clear,  when  "strict  liability"  is  imposed,  what  value  (social 
welfare?)  is  triumphant,  and  there  has  consequently  been 
much  criticism  of  this  as  an  odious  and  useless  departure  from 
proper  principles  of  liability. 

Modern  systems  of  law  are  however  also  concerned  with 
most  of  the  conditions  we  have  listed  as  excusing  conditions 
in  another  way.  Besides  the  criminal  law  that  requires  men 
to  do  or  abstain  from  certain  actions  whether  they  wish  to  or 
not,  all  legal  systems  contain  rules  of  a  different  type  that 
provide  legal  facilities  whereby  individuals  can  give  effect  to 
their  wishes  by  entering  into  certain  transactions  that  alter 
their  own  and/ or  others'  legal  position  (rights,  duties,  status, 
etc.).  Examples  of  these  civil  transactions  (acts  in  the  law, 
Rechtgeschdfte)  are  wills,  contracts,  gifts,  marriage.  If  a  legal 
system  did  not  provide  facilities  allowing  individuals  to  give 
legal  effect  to  their  choices  in  such  areas  of  conduct,  it  would 
faU  to  make  one  of  the  law's  most  distinctive  and  valuable 
contributions  to  social  life.  But  here  too  most  of  the  mental 
conditions  we  have  mentioned  are  recognized  by  the  law  as 
important  not  primarily  as  excusing  conditions  but  as  invali- 
dating conditions.  Thus  a  will,  a  gift,  a  marriage,  and  (subject 
to  many  complex  exceptions)  a  contract  may  be  invalid  if 
the  party  concerned  was  insane,  mistaken  about  the  legal 
character  of  the  transaction  or  some  "essential"  term  of  it,  or 
if  he  was  subject  to  duress,  coercion,  or  the  undue  influence 
of  other  persons.  These  are  the  obvious  analogues  of  mistake, 
accident,  coercion,  duress,  insanity,  admitted  by  criminal  law 
as  excusing  conditions.  Analogously,  the  recognition  of  such 
conditions  as  invalidating  civil  transactions  is  qualified  or 
limited  by  other  principles.  Those  who  enter  in  good  faith  into 
bilateral  transactions  of  the  kind  mentionea  with  persons  who 
appear  normal  (i.e.,  not  subject  to  any  of  the  relevant  invali- 

Legal  Responsibility  and  Excuses     /     101 

dating  conditions)  must  be  protected,  as  must  third  parties  who 
may  have  purchased  interests  originating  from  a  transaction 
that  on  the  face  of  it  seemed  normal.  Hence  a  technique  has 
been  introduced  to  safeguard  such  persons.  This  includes 
principles  precluding,  say,  a  party  who  has  entered  into  a 
transaction  by  some  mistake  from  making  this  the  basis  of 
his  defense  against  one  who  honestly  took  his  words  at  face 
value  and  justifiably  relied  on  them;  there  are  also  distinctions 
between  transactions  wholly  invalidated  ad  initio  (void)  and 
those  that  are  valid  until  denounced  (voidable)  to  protect 
those  who  have  relied  on  the  transaction's  normal  form. 


The  similarity  between  the  law's  insistence  on  certain 
mental  elements  for  both  criminal  responsibility  and  the  valid- 
ity of  acts  in  the  law  is  clear.  Why,  then,  do  we  value  a  system 
of  social  control  that  takes  mental  condition  into  account?  Let 
us  start  with  criminal  law  and  its  excusing  conditions.  What 
is  so  precious  in  its  attention  to  these,  and  what  would  be  lost 
if  it  gave  this  up?  What  precisely  is  the  ground  of  our  dis- 
satisfaction with  "strict  liability"  in  criminal  law?  To  these 
fundamental  questions,  there  still  are,  curiously  enough,  many 
quite  discordant  answers,  and  I  propose  to  consider  two  of 
them  before  suggesting  an  answer  that  would  stress  the  anal- 
ogy with  civil  transactions. 

The  first  general  answer  takes  this  form.  It  is  said  that  the 
importance  of  excusing  conditions  in  criminal  responsibility  is 
derivative,  and  it  derives  from  the  more  fundamental  require- 
ment that  for  criminal  responsibility  there  must  be  "moral 
culpability,"  which  would  not  exist  where  the  excusing  condi- 
tions are  present.  On  this  view  the  maxim  actus  non  est  reus 
nisi  mens  sit  rea  means  a  morally  evil  mind.  Certainly  traces 
of  this  view  are  to  be  found  in  scattered  observations  of  Eng- 
lish and  American  judges — in  phrases  such  as  "an  evil  mind 
with  regard  to  that  which  he  is  doing,"  "a  bad  mind,"  "there 
must  be  an  act  done  not  merely  unguardedly  or  accidentally, 
without  an  evil  mind."^  Some  of  these  well-known  formula- 
tions were  perhaps  careless  statements  of  the  quite  different 
principle  that  mens  rea  is  an  intention  to  commit  an  act  that 
is  wrong  in  the  sense  of  legally  forbidden.  But  the  same  view 
has  been  reasserted  in  general  terms  in  England  by  Lord 
Justice  Denning:  "In  order  that  an  act  should  be  punishable  it 

•Lord  Esher  in  hee  v.  Dangar  (1892)  2  Q.B.  337. 

102    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

must  be  morally  blameworthy,  it  must  be  a  sin."^  Most  Eng- 
lish lawyers  would  however  now  agree  with  Sir  James  Fitz- 
James  Stephen  that  the  expression  mens  rea  is  unfortunate, 
though  too  firmly  established  to  be  expelled,  just  because  it 
misleadingly  suggests  that  in  general  moral  culpability  is  es- 
sential to  a  crime,  and  they  would  assent  to  the  criticism  ex- 
pressed by  a  later  judge  that  "the  true  translation  of  mens  rea 
is  an  intention  to  do  the  act  which  is  made  penal  by  statute  or 
common  law."^  Yet,  in  spite  of  this,  the  view  has  been  urged 
by  a  distinguished  American  contemporary  writer  on  criminal 
law,  Professor  Jerome  Hall,  in  his  important  and  illuminating 
Principles  of  Criminal  Law,  that  moral  culpability  is  the  basis 
of  responsibility  in  crime.  Again  and  again  in  Chapters  V  and 
VI  of  his  book  Professor  Hall  asserts  that,  though  the  good- 
ness or  badness  of  the  motive  with  which  a  crime  is  com- 
mitted may  not  be  relevant,  the  general  principle  of  liability, 
except  of  course  where  liability  is  unfortunately  "strict"  and 
so  any  mental  element  must  be  disregarded,  is  the  "intentional 
or  reckless  doing  of  a  morally  wrong  act."^  This  is  declared  to 
be  the  essential  meaning  of  mens  rea:  "though  mens  rea  differs 
in  different  crimes  there  is  one  common  essential  element, 
namely,  the  voluntary  doing  of  a  morally  wrong  act  forbidden 
by  the  Iaw."^°  On  this  view  the  law  inquires  into  the  mind  in 
criminal  cases  in  order  to  secure  that  no  one  shall  be  punished 
in  the  absence  of  the  basic  condition  of  moral  culpability.  For 
it  is  just  only  to  "punish  those  who  have  intentionally  com- 
mitted moral  wrongs  proscribed  by  law."^^ 

Now,  if  this  theory  were  merely  a  theory  as  to  what  the 
criminal  law  of  a  good  society  should  be,  it  would  not  be  pos- 
sible to  refute  it,  for  it  represents  a  moral  preference:  namely 
that  legal  punishment  should  be  administered  only  where  a 
"morally  wrong"  act  has  been  done — though  I  think  such 
plausibility  as  it  would  have  even  as  an  ideal  is  due  to  a  con- 
fusion. But  of  com^e  Professor  Hall's  doctrine  does  not  fit  any 
actual  system  of  criminal  law  because  in  every  such  system 
there  are  necessarily  many  actions  (quite  apart  from  the  cases 
of  "strict  liability")   that  if  voluntarily  done  are  criminally 

T  Denning,  The  Changing  Law  (London:  Stevens,  1953),  p.  12. 

»Allard  v.  Selfrtdgc  (1925)  1  K.B.  137.  (Shearman.)  This  is  quoted  by 
Glanville  Williams  in  The  Criminal  Law  (London:  Stevens,  1953),  p.  29,  note 
3,  where  the  author  comments  that  the  judge  should  have  added  "reckless* 

»  Hall,  op.  ctt.,  p.  166. 

i»  Ibid.,  p.  167. 

"  Ibid.,  p.  149. 

Legal  Responsibility  and  Excuses     /     103 

punishable,  although  our  moral  code  may  be  either  silent  as 
to  their  moral  quality,  or  divided.  Very  many  offenses  are 
created  by  legislation  designed  to  give  effect  to  a  particular 
economic  scheme  (e.g.,  a  state  monopoly  of  road  or  rail  trans- 
port), the  utility  or  moral  character  of  which  may  be  genu- 
inely in  dispute.  An  offender  against  such  legislation  can 
hardly  be  said  to  be  morally  guilty  or  to  have  intentionally 
committed  a  moral  wrong,  still  less  "a  sin"  proscribed  by 
law;i2  yet  jf  jjg  ^^s  broken  such  laws  "voluntarily"  (to  use 
Professor  Hall's  expression),  which  in  practice  means  that  he 
was  not  in  any  of  the  excusing  conditions,  the  requu-ements  of 
justice  are  surely  satisfied.  Doubts  about  the  justice  of  the  pun- 
ishment would  begin  only  if  he  were  punished  even  though  he 
was  at  the  time  of  the  action  in  one  of  the  excusing  condi- 
tions; for  what  is  essential  is  that  the  offender,  if  he  is  to  be 
fairly  punished,  must  have  acted  "voluntarily,"  and  not  that 
he  must  have  committed  some  moral  offense.  In  addition  to 
such  requirements  of  justice  in  the  individual  case,  there  is 
of  course,  as  we  shall  see,  a  different  type  of  requirement  as 
to  the  general  character  of  the  laws. 

It  is  important  to  see  what  has  led  Professor  Hall  and  others 
to  the  conclusion  that  the  basis  of  criminal  responsibility  must 
be  moral  culpability  ("the  voluntary  doing  of  a  morally  wrong 
act"),  for  latent  in  this  position,  I  think,  is  a  false  dilemma. 
The  false  dilemma  is  that  criminal  liability  must  either  be 
"strict" — that  is,  based  on  nothing  more  than  the  outward 
conduct  of  the  accused — or  must  be  based  on  moral  culpabil- 
ity. On  this  view  there  is  no  third  alternative  and  so  there  can 
be  no  reason  for  inquiring  into  the  state  of  mind  of  the  ac- 
cused— "inner  facts,"  as  Professor  Hall  terms  them — except 
for  the  purpose  of  establishing  moral  guilt.  To  be  understood 
all  theories  should  be  examined  in  the  context  of  argument  in 
which  they  are  advanced,  and  it  is  important  to  notice  that 
Professor  Hall's  doctrine  was  developed  mainly  by  way  of 
criticism  of  the  so-called  objective  theory  of  liability,  which 
was  developed,  though  not  very  consistently,  by  Chief  Justice 
Holmes  in  his  famous  essays  on  common  law.^^  Holmes  as- 

"  "The  criminal  quality  of  an  act  cannot  be  discovered  by  intuition:  nor 
can  it  be  discovered  by  any  standard  but  one.  Is  the  act  prohibited  with  penal 
consequences?  Morality  and  criminality  are  far  from  coextensive  nor  is  the 
sphere  of  criminality  part  of  a  more  exclusive  field  covered  by  morality  unless 
morals  necessarily  disapproves  of  the  acts  prohibited  by  the  state,  in  which 
case  the  argument  moves  in  a  circle."  Lord  Atkin,  Proprietory  Articles  Trade 
Association  v.  A.G.  for  Canada  (1931)  A.C.  324. 

1*  Holmes,  The  Common  Law,  Lecture  II,  "The  Criminal  Law." 

104    /     Determinum  and  Freedom 

serted  that  the  law  did  not  consider,  and  need  not  consider,  in 
administering  punishment  what  in  fact  the  accused  intended, 
but  that  it  imputed  to  him  the  intention  that  an  "ordinary 
man,"  equipped  with  ordinary  knowledge,  would  be  taken  to 
have  had  in  acting  as  the  accused  did.  Holmes  in  advocating 
this  theory  of  "objective  liability"  used  the  phrase  "inner 
facts"  and  frequently  stressed  that  mens  rea,  in  the  sense  of 
the  actual  wickedness  of  the  party,  was  unnecessary.  So  he 
often  identified  "mental  facts"  with  moral  guilt  and  also  iden- 
tified the  notion  of  an  objective  standard  of  liability  with  the  re- 
jection of  moral  culpability  as  a  basis  of  liability.  This  termi- 
nology was  pregnant  with  confusion.  It  fatally  suggests  that 
there  are  only  two  alternatives:  to  consider  the  mental  condi- 
tion of  the  accused  only  to  find  moral  culpability  or  not  to 
consider  it  at  all.  But  we  are  not  impaled  on  the  horns  of  any 
such  dilemma:  there  are  independent  reasons,  apart  from  the 
question  of  moral  guilt,  why  a  legal  system  should  require  a 
voluntary  action  as  a  condition  of  responsibility.  These  rea- 
sons I  shall  develop  in  a  moment  and  merely  summarize  here 
by  saying  that  the  principle  ( 1 )  that  it  is  unfair  and  unjust  to 
punish  those  who  have  not  "voluntarily"  broken  the  law  is  a 
moral  principle  quite  distinct  from  the  assertion  (2)  that  it  is 
wrong  to  punish  those  who  have  not  "voluntarily  committed  a 
moral  viTong  proscribed  by  law." 

The  confusion  that  suggests  the  false  dilemma — either  "ob- 
jective" standards  (strict  liability)  or  liability  based  on  the 
"inner  fact"  of  moral  guilt — is,  I  think,  this.  We  would  all 
agree  that  unless  a  legal  system  was  as  a  whole  morally  de- 
fensible, so  that  its  existence  was  better  than  the  chaos  of  its 
collapse,  and  more  good  than  evil  was  secured  by  maintaining 
and  enforcing  laws  in  general,  these  laws  should  not  be  en- 
forced, and  no  one  should  be  punished  for  breaking  them.  It 
seems  therefore  to  follow,  but  does  not,  that  we  should  not 
punish  anyone  unless  in  breaking  the  law  he  has  done  some- 
thing morally  wrong;  for  it  looks  as  if  the  mere  fact  that  a 
law  has  been  voluntarily  broken  were  not  enough  to  justify 
punishment;  the  extra  element  required  is  "moral  culpability," 
at  least  in  the  sense  that  we  should  have  done  something  mor- 
ally wrong.  What  we  need  to  escape  confusion  here  is  a  dis- 
tinction between  two  sets  of  questions.  The  first  is  a  general 
question  about  the  moral  value  of  the  laws:  Will  enforcing 
them  produce  more  good  than  evil?  If  they  do,  then  it  is  mor- 
ally permissible  to  enforce  them  by  punishing  those  who  have 
broken  them,  unless  in  any  given  case  there  is  some  "excuse." 

Legal  Responsibility  and  Excuses     /     105 

The  second  is  a  particular  question  concerning  individual 
cases:  Is  it  right  or  just  to  punish  this  particular  person?  Is  he 
to  be  excused  on  account  of  his  mental  condition  because  it 
would  be  unjust — in  view  of  his  lack  of  knowledge  or  control 
— to  punish  him?  The  first,  general  question  with  regard  to 
each  law  is  a  question  for  the  legislature;  the  second,  arising 
in  particular  cases,  is  for  the  judge.  And  the  question  of  re- 
sponsibility arises  only  at  the  judicial  stage.  One  necessary 
condition  of  the  just  application  of  a  punishment  is  normally 
expressed  by  saying  that  the  agent  "could  have  helped"  doing 
what  he  did,  and  hence  the  need  to  inquire  into  the  "iimer 
facts"  is  dictated  not  by  the  moral  principle  that  only  the  do- 
ing of  an  immoral  act  may  be  legally  punished,  but  by  the 
moral  principle  that  no  one  should  be  punished  who  could 
not  help  doing  what  he  did.  This  is  a  necessary  condition  (un- 
less strict  liability  is  admitted)  for  the  moral  propriety  of  legal 
punishment  and  no  doubt  also  for  moral  censure;  in  this 
respect  law  and  morals  are  similar.  But  this  similarity  as  to 
the  one  essential  condition  that  there  must  be  a  "voluntary" 
action  if  legal  punishment  or  moral  censure  is  to  be  morally 
permissible  does  not  mean  that  legal  punishment  is  morally 
permissible  only  where  the  agent  has  done  something  morally 
wrong.  I  think  that  the  use  of  the  word  "fault"  in  juristic  dis- 
cussion to  designate  the  requirement  that  liability  be  excluded 
by  excusing  conditions  may  have  blurred  the  important  dis- 
tinction between  the  assertions  that  (1)  it  is  morally  permis- 
sible to  punish  only  voluntary  actions  and  (2)  it  is  morally 
permissible  to  punish  only  voluntary  commission  of  a  moral 


Let  me  now  turn  to  a  second  explanation  of  the  laws  con- 
cerned with  the  "inner  facts"  of  mental  life  as  a  condition  of 
responsibility.  This  is  a  Benthamite  theory  that  I  shall  name 
the  "economy  of  threats"  and  is  the  contention  that  the  re- 
quired conditions  of  responsibility — e.g.,  that  the  agent  knew 
what  he  was  doing,  was  not  subject  to  gross  coercion  or  du- 
ress, was  not  mad  or  a  small  child — are  simply  the  conditions 
that  must  be  satisfied  if  the  threat  to  punish  announced  by  the 
criminal  law  is  to  have  any  effect  and  if  the  system  is  to  be 
efficient  in  securing  the  maintenance  of  law  at  the  least  cost  in 
pain.  This  theory  is  stated  most  clearly  by  Bentham;  it  is  also 
to  be  found  in  Austin  and  in  the  report  of  the  great  Criminal 
Law  Commission  of  1833  of  which  he  was  a  member.  In  a 

106    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

refined  form  it  is  implicit  in  many  contemporary  attempted 
"dissolutions"  of  the  problem  of  free  will.  Many  accept  this 
view  as  a  common-sense  utilitarian  explanation  of  the  impor- 
tance that  we  attribute  to  excusing  conditions.  It  appeals  most 
to  the  utilitarian  and  to  the  determinist,  and  it  is  interesting  to 
find  that  Professor  Glanville  Williams  in  his  recent  admirable 
work  on  "The  General  Principles  of  Criminal  Law,"i*  when 
he  wished  to  explain  the  exemption  of  the  insane  from  legal 
responsibility  compatibly  with  "determinism,"  did  so  by  refer- 
ence to  this  theory. 

Yet  the  doctrine  is  an  incoherent  one  at  certain  points,  I 
think,  and  a  departure  from,  rather  than  an  elucidation  of,  the 
moral  insistence  that  criminal  liability  should  generally  be 
conditional  on  the  absence  of  excusing  conditions.  Bentham's 
best  statement  of  the  theory  is  in  Chapter  XIII  of  his  Princi- 
ples of  Morals  and  Legislation:  "Cases  in  Which  Punishment 
Must  be  Inefficacious."  The  cases  he  lists,  besides  those  where 
the  law  is  made  ex  post  facto  or  not  adequately  promulgated, 
fall  into  two  main  classes.  The  first  class  consists  of  cases  in 
which  the  penal  threat  of  punishment  could  not  prevent  a 
person  from  performing  an  action  forbidden  by  the  law  or 
any  action  of  the  same  sort;  these  are  the  cases  of  infancy  and 
insanity  in  which  the  agent,  according  to  Bentham,  has  not 
the  "state  or  disposition  of  mind  on  which  the  prospect  of  evils 
so  distant  as  those  which  are  held  forth  by  the  law"  has  the 
effect  of  influencing  his  conduct.  The  second  class  consists  of 
cases  in  which  the  law's  threat  could  not  have  had  any  effect 
on  the  agent  in  relation  to  the  particular  act  committed  be- 
cause of  his  lack  of  knowledge  or  control.  What  is  wrong  in 
punishing  a  man  under  both  these  types  of  mental  conditions 
is  that  the  punishment  is  wasteful;  suffering  is  caused  to  the 
accused  who  is  punished  in  circumstances  where  it  could  do 
no  good. 

In  discussing  the  defense  of  insanity  Professor  Glanville 
Williams  applies  this  theory  in  a  way  that  brings  out  its  con- 
sistency not  only  with  a  wholly  utilitarian  outlook  on  punish- 
ment but  with  determinism. 

For  mankind  in  the  mass  it  is  impossible  to  tell  whom  the 
threat  of  punishment  will  restrain  and  whom  it  will  not;  for 
most  it  will  succeed,  for  some  it  will  fail.  And  the  punishment 
must  then  be  applied  to  those  criminals  in  order  to  maintain  the 
threat  to  persons  generally.   Mentally  deranged  persons,  how- 

1*  Williams,  op.  cit.,  pp.  346-47. 

Legal  Responsibility  and  Excuses     /    107 

ever,  can  be  separated  from  the  mass  by  scientific  tests,  and 
being  a  defined  class  their  segregation  from  punishment  does  not 
impair  the  eflBcacy  of  the  sanction  for  people  generally.^* 

The  point  made  here  is  that,  if,  for  example,  the  mentally  de- 
ranged (scientifically  tested)  are  exempted,  criminals  will  not 
be  able  to  exploit  this  exemption  to  free  themselves  from 
liability,  since  they  cannot  bring  themselves  within  its  scope 
and  so  will  not  feel  free  to  commit  crimes  with  impunity.  This 
is  said  in  order  to  justify  the  exemption  of  the  insane  con- 
sistently with  the  "tenet"  of  determinism,  in  spite  of  the  fact 
that  from  a  determinist  viewpoint 

every  impulse  if  not  in  fact  resisted  was  in  those  circumstances 
irresistible.  A  so-called  irresistible  impulse  is  simply  one  in 
which  the  desire  to  perform  a  particular  act  is  not  influenced  by 
other  factors  like  the  threat  of  punishment.  ...  on  this  definition 
every  crime  is  the  result  of  an  irresistible  impulse. 

This  theory  is  designed  not  merely  to  fit  a  utilitarian  theory 
of  punishment,  but  also  the  view  that  it  is  always  false,  if  not 
senseless,  to  say  that  a  criminal  could  have  helped  doing  what 
he  did.  So  on  this  theory  when  we  inquire  into  the  mental 
state  of  the  accused,  we  do  not  do  so  to  answer  the  question, 
Could  he  help  it?  Nor  of  course  to  answer  the  question.  Could 
the  threat  of  punishment  have  been  effective  in  his  case? — for 
we  know  that  it  was  not.  The  theory  presents  us  with  a  far 
simpler  conceptual  scheme  for  dealing  with  the  whole  matter, 
since  it  does  not  involve  the  seemingly  counterfactual  specu- 
lation regarding  what  the  accused  "could  have  done."  On  this 
theory  we  inquire  into  the  state  of  mind  of  the  accused  simply 
to  find  out  whether  he  belongs  to  a  defined  class  of  persons 
whose  exemption  from  punishment,  if  allowed,  will  not 
weaken  the  effect  on  others  of  the  general  threat  of  punish- 
ment made  by  the  law.  So  there  is  no  question  of  its  being 
unjust  or  unfair  to  punish  a  particular  criminal  or  to  exempt 
him  from  punishment.  Once  the  crime  has  been  committed 
the  decision  to  punish  or  not  has  nothing  to  do  with  any  moral 
claim  or  right  of  the  criminal  to  have  the  features  of  his  case 
considered,  but  only  with  the  causal  efficacy  of  his  punishment 
on  others.  On  this  view  the  rationale  of  excuses  is  not  (to  put 
it  shortly)  that  the  accused  should  in  view  of  his  mental  con- 
dition be  excused  whatever  the  effect  of  this  on  others,  but 
rather  the  mere  fact  that  excusing  him  will  not  harm  society 

16  Williams,  loc.  clt. 

108    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

by  reducing  the  efficacy  of  the  law's  threats  for  others.  So 
the  relevance  of  the  criminal's  mental  condition  is  purely  the 
question  of  the  effect  on  others  of  his  punishment  or  exemp- 
tion from  it. 

This  is  certainly  paradoxical  enough.  It  seems  to  destroy 
the  entire  notion  that  in  punishing  we  must  be  just  to  the 
particular  criminal  in  front  of  us  and  that  the  purpose  of 
excusing  conditions  is  to  protect  him  from  society's  claim. 
But  apart  from  paradox  the  doctrine  that  we  consider  the 
state  of  a  man's  mind  only  to  see  if  punishment  is  required  in 
order  to  maintain  the  efficacy  of  threats  for  others  is  vitiated 
by  a  non  sequitur.  Before  a  man  does  a  criminal  action  we 
may  know  that  he  is  in  such  a  condition  that  the  threats  can- 
not operate  on  him,  either  because  of  some  temporary  con- 
dition or  because  of  a  disease;  but  it  does  not  follow — because 
the  threat  of  punishment  in  his  case,  and  in  the  case  of  others 
like  him,  is  useless — that  his  punishment  in  the  sense  of  the 
official  administration  of  penalties  will  also  be  unnecessary 
to  maintain  the  efficacy  of  threats  for  others  at  its  highest.  It 
may  very  well  be  that,  if  the  law  contained  no  explicit  exemp- 
tions from  responsibility  on  the  score  of  ignorance,  accident, 
mistake,  or  insanity,  many  people  who  now  take  a  chance  in 
the  hope  that  they  will  bring  themselves,  if  discovered,  within 
these  exempting  provisions  would  in  fact  be  deterred.  It  is 
indeed  a  perfectly  familiar  fact  that  pleas  of  loss  of  con- 
sciousness or  other  abnormal  mental  states,  or  of  the  existence 
of  some  other  excusing  condition,  are  frequently  and  some- 
times successfully  advanced  where  there  is  no  real  basis  for 
them,  for  the  difficulties  of  disproof  are  often  considerable. 
The  uselessness  of  a  threat  against  a  given  individual  or  class 
does  not  entail  that  the  punishment  of  that  individual  or  class 
cannot  be  required  to  maintain  in  the  highest  degree  the  ef- 
ficacy of  threats  for  others.  It  may  in  fact  be  the  case  that  to 
make  liability  to  punishment  dependent  on  the  absence  of  ex- 
cusing conditions  is  the  most  efficient  way  of  maintaining  the 
laws  with  the  least  cost  in  pain.  But  it  is  not  obviously  or 
necessarily  the  case. 

It  is  clear,  I  think,  that  if  we  were  to  base  our  views  of 
criminal  resp)Onsibility  on  the  doctrine  of  the  economy  of 
threats,  we  should  misrepresent  altogether  the  character  of 
our  moral  preference  for  a  legal  system  that  requires  mental 
conditions  of  responsibility  over  a  system  of  total  strict  liabil- 
ity or  entirely  different  methods  of  social  control  such  as 
hypnosis,  propaganda,  or  conditioning. 

Legal  Responsibility  and  Excuses     /     109 

(^To  make  this  intelligible  we  must  cease  to  regard  the  law  as 
merely  a  causal  factor  in  human  behavior  differing  from 
others  only  in  the  fact  that  it  produces  its  effect  through  the 
medium  of  the  mind;  for  it  is  clear  that  we  look  on  excusing 
conditions  as  something  that  protects  the  individual  against 
the  claims  of  the  rest  of  society.  Recognition  of  their  excusing 
force  may  lead  to  a  lower,  not  a  higher,  level  of  efficacy  of 
threats;  yet — and  this  is  the  point — we  could  not  regard  that 
as  sufficient  ground  for  abandoning  this  protection  of  the 
individual;  or  if  we  did,  it  would  be  with  the  recognition  that 
we  had  sacrificed  one  principle  to  another;  for  more  is  at 
stake  than  the  single  principle  of  maintaining  the  laws  at  their 
most  efficacious  level.  We  must  cease,  therefore,  to  regard  the 
law  simply  as  a  system  of  stimuli  goading  the  individual  by  its 
threats  into  conformity.  Instead  I  shall  suggest  a  mercantile 
analogy.  Consider  the  law  not  as  a  system  of  stimuli  but  as 
what  might  be  termed  a  choosing  system  in  which  individuals 
can  find  out,  in  general  terms  at  least,  the  costs  they  have  to 
pay  if  they  act  in  certain  ways.  This  done,  let  us  ask  what 
value  this  system  would  have  in  social  life  and  why  we  should 
regret  its  absence.  I  do  not  of  course  mean  to  suggest  that  it 
is  a  matter  of  indifference  whether  we  obey  the  law  or  break 
it  and  pay  the  penalty.  Punishment  is  different  from  a  mere 
"tax  on  a  course  of  conduct."  What  I  do  mean  is  that  the 
conception  of  the  law  simply  as  goading  individuals  into  de- 
sired courses  of  behavior  is  inadequate  and  misleading;  what 
a  legal  system  that  makes  liability  generally  depend  on  ex- 
cusing conditions  does  is  to  guide  individuals'  choices  as  to 
behavior  by  presenting  them  with  reasons  for  exercising 
choice  in  the  direction  of  obedience,  but  leaving  them  to 

It  is  at  this  point  that  I  would  stress  the  analogy  between 
the  mental  conditions  that  excuse  from  criminal  responsibility 
and  the  mental  conditions  that  are  regarded  as  invalidating 
civil  transactions  such  as  wills,  gifts,  contracts,  marriages,  and 
the  like.  The  latter  institutions  provide  individuals  with  two 
inestimable  advantages  in  relation  to  those  areas  of  conduct 
they  cover.  These  are  (1)  the  advantage  to  the  individual  of 
determining  by  his  choice  what  the  future  shall  be  and  (2) 
the  advantage  of  being  able  to  predict  what  -the  future  wUl 
be.  For  these  institutions  enable  the  individual  ( 1 )  to  bring 
into  operation  the  coercive  forces  of  the  law  so  that  those 
legal  arrangements  he  has  chosen  shall  be  carried  into  effect 
and  (2)  to  plan  the  rest  of  his  life  with  a  certainty  or  at  least 

110    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

the  confidence  (in  a  legal  system  that  is  working  normally) 
that  the  arrangements  he  has  made  will  in  fact  be  carried  out. 
By  these  devices  the  individual's  choice  is  brought  into  the 
legal  system  and  allowed  to  determine  its  future  operations  in 
certain  areas,  thereby  giving  him  a  type  of  indirect  coercive 
control  over,  and  a  power  to  foresee  the  development  of, 
official  life.  This  he  would  not  have  "naturally";  that  is,  apart 
from  these  legal  institutions. 

In  brief,  the  function  of  these  institutions  of  private  law  is 
to  render  effective  the  individual's  preferences  in  certain 
areas.  It  is  therefore  clear  why  in  this  sphere  the  law  treats 
the  mental  factors  of,  say,  mistake,  ignorance  of  the  nature 
of  the  transaction,  coercion,  undue  influence,  or  insanity  as 
invalidating  such  civil  transactions.  For  a  transaction  entered 
into  under  such  conditions  will  not  represent  a  real  choice: 
the  individual  might  have  chosen  one  course  of  events  and 
by  the  transaction  procured  another  (cases  of  mistake,  ig- 
norance, etc.),  or  he  might  have  chosen  to  enter  the  trans- 
action without  coolly  and  calmly  thinking  out  what  he  wanted 
(undue  influence),  or  he  might  have  been  subjected  to  the 
threats  of  another  who  had  imposed  his  choices  (coercion). 

To  see  the  value  of  such  institutions  in  rendering  effective 
the  individual's  considered  and  informed  choices  as  to  what 
on  the  whole  shall  happen,  we  have  but  to  conduct  the  experi- 
ment of  imagining  their  absence:  a  system  where  no  mental 
conditions  would  be  recognized  as  invalidating  such  trans- 
actions and  the  consequent  loss  of  control  over  the  future 
that  the  individual  would  suffer.  That  such  institutions  do 
render  individual  choices  effective  and  increase  the  powers  of 
individuals  to  predict  the  course  of  events  is  simply  a  matter 
of  empirical  fact,  and  no  form  of  "determinism,"  of  course, 
can  show  this  to  be  false  or  illusory.  If  a  man  makes  a  will 
to  which  the  law  gives  effect  after  his  death,  this  is  not,  of 
course,  merely  a  case  of  post  hoc:  we  have  enough  empirical 
evidence  to  show  that  this  was  an  instance  of  a  regularity 
sufficient  to  have  enabled  us  to  predict  the  outcome  with  rea- 
sonable probability,  at  least  in  some  cases,  and  to  justify  us, 
therefore,  in  interpreting  this  outcome  as  a  consequence  of 
making  the  will.  There  is  no  reason  why  we  should  not  de- 
scribe the  situation  as  one  where  the  testator  caused  the  out- 
come of  the  distribution  made.  Of  course  the  testator's  choice 
in  his  example  is  only  one  prominent  member  of  a  complex 
set  of  conditions,  of  which  all  the  other  members  were  as 
necessary  for  the  production  of  the  outcome  as  his  choice. 

Legal  Responsibility  and  Excuses     /     111 

Science  may  indeed  show  ( 1 )  that  this  set  of  conditions  also 
includes  conditions  of  which  we  are  at  the  present  moment 
quite  ignorant  and  (2)  that  the  testator's  choice  itself  was  the 
outcome  of  some  set  of  jointly  sufficient  conditions  of  which 
we  have  no  present  knowledge.  Yet  neither  of  these  two  sup- 
positions, even  if  they  were  verified,  would  make  it  false  to 
say  that  the  individual's  choice  did  determine  the  results,  or 
make  illusory  the  satisfaction  got  (a)  from  the  knowledge  that 
this  kind  of  thing  is  possible,  (b)  from  the  exercise  of  such 
choice.  And  if  determinism  does  not  entail  that  satisfactions 
(o)  or  (b)  are  obtainable,  I  for  one  do  not  understand  how  it 
could  affect  the  wisdom,  justice,  rationality,  or  moraUty  of  the 
system  we  are  considering. 

If  with  this  in  mind  we  turn  back  to  criminal  law  and  its 
excusing  conditions,  we  can  regard  their  function  as  a  mech- 
anism for  similarly  maximizing  within  the  framework  of 
coercive  criminal  law  the  efficacy  of  the  individual's  informed 
and  considered  choice  in  determining  the  future  and  also  his 
power  to  predict  that  future.  We  must  start,  of  course,  with 
the  need  for  criminal  law  and  its  sanctions  as  at  least  some 
check  on  behavior  that  threatens  society.  This  implies  a  belief 
that  the  criminal  law's  threats  actually  do  diminish  the  fre- 
quency of  antisocial  behavior,  and  no  doubt  this  belief  may 
be  said  to  be  based  on  inadequate  evidence.  However,  we 
must  clearly  take  it  as  our  starting  point:  if  this  belief  is 
wrong,  it  is  so  because  of  lack  of  empirical  evidence  and  not 
because  it  contradicts  any  form  of  determinism.  Then  we  can 
see  that  by  attaching  excusing  conditions  to  criminal  responsi- 
bility, we  provide  each  individual  with  something  he  would 
not  have  if  we  made  the  system  of  criminal  law  operate  on 
a  basis  of  total  "strict  liability."  First,  we  maximize  the  in- 
dividual's power  at  any  time  to  predict  the  likelihood  that  the 
sanctions  of  the  criminal  law  will  be  applied  to  him.  Secondly, 
we  introduce  the  individual's  choice  as  one  of  the  operative 
factors  determining  whether  or  not  these  sanctions  shall  be 
applied  to  him.  He  can  weigh  the  cost  to  him  of  obeying  the 
law — and  of  sacrificing  some  satisfaction  in  order  to  obey — 
against  obtaining  that  satisfaction  at  the  cost  of  paying  "the 
penalty."  Thirdly,  by  adopting  this  system  of  attaching  ex- 
cusing conditions  we  provide  that,  if  the  sanctions  of  the 
criminal  law  are  applied,  the  pains  of  punishment  will  for 
each  individual  represent  the  price  of  some  satisfaction  ob- 
tained from  breach  of  law.  Ths,  of  course,  can  sound  like  a 
very  cold,  if  not  immoral,  attitude  toward  the  criminal  law. 

112     /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

general  obedience  to  which  we  regard  as  an  essential  part  of 
a  decent  social  order.  But  this  attitude  seems  repellent  only 
if  we  assume  that  all  criminal  laws  are  ones  whose  operation 
we  approve.  To  be  realistic  we  must  also  think  of  bad  and 
repressive  criminal  laws;  in  South  Africa,  Nazi  Germany, 
Soviet  Russia,  and  no  doubt  elsewhere,  we  might  be  thankful 
to  have  their  badness  mitigated  by  the  fact  that  they  fall  only 
on  those  who  have  obtained  a  satisfaction  from  knowingly  do- 
ing what  they  forbid. 

Again,  the  value  of  these  three  factors  can  be  realized  if 
we  conduct  the  Gedankenexperiment  of  imagining  criminal 
law  operating  without  excusing  conditions.  First,  our  power  of 
predicting  what  will  happen  to  us  wiU  be  immeasurably  di- 
minished; the  likelihood  that  I  shall  choose  to  do  the  for- 
bidden act  (e.g.,  strike  someone)  and  so  incur  the  sanctions 
of  the  criminal  law  may  not  be  very  easy  to  calculate  even 
under  our  system:  as  a  basis  for  this  prediction  we  have  in- 
deed only  the  knowledge  of  our  own  character  and  some 
estimate  of  the  temptations  life  is  likely  to  offer  us.  But  if 
we  are  also  to  be  liable  if  we  strike  someone  by  accident,  by 
mistake,  under  coercion,  etc.,  the  chance  that  we  shall  incur 
the  sanctions  are  immeasurably  increased.  From  our  knowl- 
edge of  the  past  career  of  our  body  considered  as  a  thing,  we 
cannot  infer  much  as  to  the  chances  of  its  being  brought  into 
violent  contact  with  another,  and  under  a  system  that  dis- 
pensed with  the  excusing  condition  of,  say,  accident  (implying 
lack  of  intention),  a  collision  alone  would  land  us  in  jail. 
Secondly,  our  choice  would  condition  what  befalls  us  to  a 
lesser  extent.  Thirdly,  we  should  suffer  sanctions  without 
having  obtained  any  satisfaction.  Again,  no  form  of  determin- 
ism that  I,  at  least,  can  construct  can  throw  any  doubt  on,  or 
show  to  be  illusory,  the  real  satisfaction  that  a  system  of 
criminal  law  incorporating  excusing  conditions  provides  for 
individuals  in  maximizing  the  effect  of  their  choices  within  the 
framework  of  coercive  law.  The  choices  remain  choices,  the 
satisfactions  remain  satisfactions,  and  the  consequences  of 
choices  remain  the  consequences  of  choices  even  if  choices 
are  determined  and  other  "determinants"  besides  our  choices 
condition  the  satisfaction  arising  from  their  being  rendered 
effective  in  this  way  by  the  structure  of  the  criminal  law. 

It  is  now  important  to  contrast  this  view  of  excusing  con- 
ditions with  the  Benthamite  explanation  I  discussed  in  Part 
III  of  this  paper.  On  that  view  excusing  conditions  were 
treated  as  conditions  imder  which  the  law's  threat  could  op- 

Legal  ResponsibUity  and  Excuses     /     113 

erate  with  maximum  efficacy.  They  were  recognized  not  be- 
cause they  ensured  justice  to  individuals  considered  separately, 
but  because  sanctions  administered  under  those  conditions 
were  believed  more  effective  and  economical  of  pain  in  secur- 
ing the  general  conformity  to  law.  If  these  beliefs  as  to  the 
efficacy  of  excusing  conditions  could  be  shown  false,  then  all 
reasons  for  recognizing  them  as  conditions  of  criminal  re- 
sponsibility would  disappear.  On  the  present  view,  which  I 
advocate,  excusing  conditions  are  accepted  as  independent  of 
the  efficacy  of  the  system  of  threats.  Instead  it  is  conceded 
that  recognition  of  these  conditions  may,  and  probably  does, 
diminish  that  efficacy  by  increasing  the  number  of  conditions 
for  criminal  liability  and  hence  giving  opportunities  for  pre- 
tense on  the  part  of  criminals,  or  mistakes  on  the  part  of 

On  this  view  excusing  conditions  are  accepted  as  something 
that  may  conflict  with  the  social  utility  of  the  law's  threats; 
they  are  regarded  as  of  moral  importance  because  they  pro- 
vide for  all  individuals  alike  the  satisfactions  of  a  costing 
system.  Recognition  of  excusing  conditions  is  therefore  seen 
as  a  matter  of  protection  of  the  individual  against  the  claims 
of  society  for  the  highest  measure  of  protection  from  crime 
that  can  be  obtained  from  a  system  of  threats.  In  this  way 
the  criminal  law  respects  the  claims  of  the  individual  as  such, 
or  at  least  as  a  choosing  being,  and  distributes  its  coercive 
sanctions  in  a  way  that  reflects  this  respect  for  the  individual. 
This  surely  is  very  central  in  the  notion  of  justice  and  is  one, 
though  no  doubt  only  one,  among  the  many  strands  of  prin- 
ciple that  I  think  lie  at  the  root  of  the  preference  for  legal 
institutions  conditioning  liability  by  reference  to  excusing 

I  cannot,  of  course,  by  unearthing  this  principle  claim  to 
have  solved  everyone's  perplexities.  In  particular,  I  do  not 
know  what  to  say  to  a  critic  who  urges  that  I  have  shown  only 
that  the  system  in  which  excusing  conditions  are  recognized 
protects  the  individual  better  against  the  claims  of  society 
than  one  in  which  no  recognition  is  accorded  to  these  factors. 
This  seems  to  me  to  be  enough;  yet  I  cannot  satisfy  his  com- 
plaint, if  he  makes  it,  that  I  have  not  shown  that  we  are 
justified  in  punishing  anyone  ever,  at  all,  under  any  condi- 
tions. He  may  say  that  even  the  criminal  who  has  committed 
his  crime  in  the  most  deliberate  and  calculating  way  and  has 
shown  himself  throughout  his  life  competent  in  maximizing 
what  he  thinks  his  own  interests  will  be  little  comforted  when 

114    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

he  is  caught  and  punished  for  some  major  crime.  At  that  stage 
he  will  get  little  satisfaction  if  it  is  pointed  out  to  him  ( 1 )  that 
he  has  obtained  some  satisfaction  from  his  crime,  (2)  that 
he  knew  that  it  was  likely  he  would  be  punished  and  that  he 
had  decided  to  pay  for  his  satisfaction  by  exposing  himself  to 
this  risk,  and  (3)  that  the  system  imder  which  he  is  punished 
is  not  one  of  strict  liability,  is  not  one  under  which  a  man 
who  accidentally  did  what  he  did  would  also  have  suffered 
the  penalties  of  the  law. 

I  will  add  four  observations  ex  abundante  cautela. 

1.  The  elucidation  of  the  moral  importance  of  the  mental 
element  in  responsibihty,  and  the  moral  odium  of  strict  lia- 
bility that  I  have  indicated,  must  not  be  mistaken  for  a  psy- 
chological theory  of  motivation.  It  does  not  answer  the 
question,  Why  do  people  obey  the  law?  It  does  not  assert  that 
they  obey  only  because  they  choose  to  obey  rather  than  pay 
the  cost.  Instead,  my  theory  answers  the  question,  Why  should 
we  have  a  law  with  just  these  features?  Human  beings  in  the 
main  do  what  the  law  requires  without  first  choosing  between 
the  advantage  and  the  cost  of  disobeying,  and  when  they  obey 
it  is  not  usually  from  fear  of  the  sanction.  For  most  the 
sanction  is  important  not  because  it  inspires  them  with  fear 
but  because  it  offers  a  guarantee  that  the  antisocial  minority 
who  would  not  otherwise  obey  will  be  coerced  into  obedience 
by  fear.  To  obey  without  this  assurance  might,  as  Hobbes  saw, 
be  very  foolish:  it  would  be  to  risk  going  to  the  wall.  How- 
ever, the  fact  that  only  a  few  people,  as  things  are,  consider 
the  question,  Shall  I /obey  or  pay?  does  not  in  the  least  mean 
that  the  standing  pdssibility  of  asking  this  question  is  unim- 
portant: for  it  secures  just  those  values  for  the  individual  that 
I  have  mentioned. 

2.  I  must  of  course  confront  the  objection  the  Marxist 
might  make,  that  the  excusing  conditions,  or  indeed  mutatis 
mutandis  the  invalidating  conditions,  of  civil  transactions  are 
of  no  use  to  many  individuals  in  society  whose  economic  or 
social  position  is  such  that  the  difference  between  a  law  of 
strict  liability  and  a  law  that  recognizes  excusing  conditions  is 
of  no  importance. 

It  is  quite  true  that  the  fact  that  criminal  law  recognizes 
excusing  mental  conditions  may  be  of  no  importance  to  a 
person  whose  economic  condition  is  such  that  he  cannot 
profit  from  the  difference  between  a  law  against  theft  that  is 

Legal  Responsibility  and  Excuses     /     115 

strict  and  one  that  incorporates  excusing  conditions.  If  starva- 
tion "forces"  him  to  steal,  the  values  the  system  respects  and 
incorporates  in  excusing  conditions  are  nothing  to  him.  This 
is  of  course  similar  to  the  claim  often  made  that  the  freedom 
that  a  political  democracy  of  the  Western  type  offers  to  its 
subjects  is  merely  formal  freedom,  not  real  freedom,  and 
leaves  one  free  to  starve.  I  regard  this  as  a  confusing  way  of 
putting  what  may  be  true  under  certain  conditions:  namely, 
that  the  freedoms  the  law  offers  may  be  valueless  as  playing 
no  part  in  the  happiness  of  persons  who  are  too  poor  or  weak 
to  take  advantage  of  them.  The  admission  that  the  excusing 
conditions  may  be  of  no  value  to  those  who  are  below  a 
minimum  level  of  economic  prosperity  may  mean,  of  course, 
that  we  should  incorporate  as  a  further  excusing  condition  the 
pressure  of  gross  forms  of  economic  necessity.  This  point, 
though  valid,  does  not  seem  to  me  to  throw  doubt  on  the 
principle  lying  behind  such  excusing  conditions  as  we  do 
recognize  at  present,  nor  to  destroy  their  genuine  value  for 
those  who  are  above  the  minimum  level  of  economic  pros- 
perity, for  a  difference  between  a  system  of  strict  liability  and 
our  present  system  plays  a  part  in  their  happiness. 

3.  The  principle  by  reference  to  which  I  have  explained  the 
moral  importance  of  excusing  conditions  may  help  clarify  an 
old  dispute,  apt  to  spring  up  between  lawyers  on  the  one  hand 
and  doctors  and  scientists  on  the  other,  about  the  moral  basis 
of  punishment. 

From  Plato  to  the  present  day  there  has  been  a  recurrent 
insistence  that  if  we  were  rational  we  would  always  look  on 
crime  as  a  disease  and  address  ourselves  to  its  cure.  We  would 
do  this  not  only  where  a  crime  has  actually  been  committed 
but  where  we  find  well-marked  evidence  that  it  will  be.  We 
would  take  the  individual  and  treat  him  as  a  patient  before 
the  deed  was  done.  Plato, ^^  it  will  be  remembered,  thought  it 
superstitious  to  look  back  and  go  into  questions  of  responsi- 
bility or  the  previous  history  of  a  crime  except  when  it  might 
throw  light  on  what  was  needed  to  cure  the  criminal. 

Carried  to  its  extreme,  this  doctrine  is  the  program  of 
Erewhon  where  those  with  criminal  tendencies  were  sent  by 
doctors  for  indefinite  periods  of  cure;  punishment  was  dis- 
placed by  a  concept  of  social  hygiene.  It  is,  I  think,  of  some 
importance  to  realize  why  we  should  object  to  this  point  of 
view,  for  both  those  who  defend  it  and  those  who  attack  it 

i»  Plato,  Protagoras,  324;  Laws  861,  865. 

116    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

often  assume  that  the  only  possible  consistent  alternative  to 
Erewhon  is  a  theory  of  punishment  under  which  it  is  justified 
simply  as  a  return  for  the  moral  evil  attributable  to  the  ac- 
cused. Those  opposed  to  the  Erewhonian  program  are  apt  to 
object  that  it  disregards  moral  guilt  as  a  necessary  condition 
of  a  just  punishment  and  thus  leads  to  a  condition  in  which 
any  person  may  be  sacrificed  to  the  welfare  of  society.  Those 
who  defend  an  Erewhonian  view  think  that  their  opponents' 
objection  must  entail  adherence  to  the  form  of  retributive 
punishment  that  regards  punishment  as  a  justified  return  for 
the  moral  evil  in  the  criminal's  action. 

Both  sides,  I  think,  make  a  common  mistake:  there  is  a 
reason  for  making  punishment  conditional  on  the  commission 
of  crime  and  respecting  excusing  conditions,  which  are  quite 
independent  of  the  form  of  retributive  theory  that  is  often 
urged  as  the  only  alternative  to  Erewhon.  Even  if  we  regard 
the  over-all  purpose  of  punishment  as  that  of  protecting 
society  by  deterring  persons  from  committing  crimes  and  in- 
sist that  the  penalties  we  inflict  be  adapted  to  this  end,  we  can 
in  perfect  consistency  and  with  good  reason  insist  that  these 
punishments  be  applied  only  to  those  who  have  broken  a  law 
and  to  whom  no  excusing  conditions  apply.  For  this  system 
will  provide  a  measure  of  protection  to  individuals  and  will 
maximize  their  powers  of  prediction  and  the  efficacy  of  their 
choices  in  the  way  that  I  have  mentioned.  To  see  this  we  have 
only  to  ask  ourselves  what  in  terms  of  these  values  we  should 
lose  (however  much  else  we  might  gain)  if  social  hygiene 
and  a  system  of  compulsory  treatment  for  those  with  detecta- 
ble criminal  tendencies  were  throughout  substituted  for  our 
system  of  punishment  modified  by  excusing  conditions.  Surely 
the  realization  of  what  would  be  lost,  and  not  a  retributive 
theory  of  punishment,  is  all  that  is  required  as  a  reason  for 
refusing  to  make  the  descent  into  Erewhon. 

4.  Finally,  what  I  have  written  concerns  only  legal  re- 
sponsibility and  the  rationale  of  excuses  in  a  legal  system  in 
which  there  are  organized,  coercive  sanctions.  I  do  not  think 
the  same  arguments  can  be  used  to  defend  moral  responsi- 
bility from  the  determinist,  if  it  is  in  any  danger  from  that 

Chapter  2 

Paul  Edwards,  New  York  University 

In  ffls  ESSAY  "The  Dilemma  of  Determinism,"  William  James 
makes  a  distinction  that  will  serve  as  a  point  of  departure  for 
my  remarks.  He  there  distinguishes  between  the  philosophers 
he  calls  "hard"  determinists  and  those  he  labels  "soft"  deter- 
minists.  The  former,  the  hard  determinists,  James  tells  us, 
"did  not  shrink  from  such  words  as  fatality,  bondage  of  the 
will,  necessitation  and  the  like."  He  quotes  a  famous  stanza 
from  Omar  Khayyam  as  representing  this  kind  of  determin- 

With  earth's  first  clay  they  did  the  last  man  knead. 
And  there  of  the  last  harvest  sowed  the  seed. 
And  the  first  morning  of  creation  wrote 
What  the  last  dawn  of  reckoning  shall  read. 

Another  of  Omar's  verses  expresses  perhaps  even  better  the 
kind  of  theory  that  James  has  here  in  mind: 

Tis  all  a  checker-board  of  nights  and  days, 
Where  destiny  with  men  for  pieces  plays; 
Thither  and  thither  moves,  and  metes,  and  slays. 
And  one  by  one  back  to  the  closet  lays. 

James  mentioned  no  names  other  than  Omar  Khayydm.  But 
there  is  little  doubt  that  among  the  hard  determinists  he 
would  have  included  Jonathan  Edwards,  Anthony  Collins, 
Holbach,  Priestley,  Robert  Owen,  Schopenhauer,  Freud,  and 
also,  if  he  had  come  a  little  earlier,  Clarence  Darrow. 

James  of  course  rejected  both  hard  and  soft  determinism, 
but  for  hard  determinism  he  had  a  certain  respect:  the  kind  of 
respect  one  sometimes  has  for  an  honest,  straightforward  ad- 
versary. For  soft  determinism,  on  the  other  hand,  he  had 
nothing  but  contempt,  calling  it  a  "quagmire  of  evasion." 
"Nowadays,"  he  writes,  "we  have  a  soft  determinism  which 
abhors  harsh  words,  and  repudiating  fatality,  necessity,  and 


118    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

even  predetermination,  says  that  its  real  name  is  'freedom.' " 
From  his  subsequent  observations  it  is  clear  that  he  would  in- 
clude among  the  evasionists  not  only  neo-Hegelians  like 
Green  and  Bradley  but  also  Hobbes  and  Hume  and  Mill;  and 
if  he  were  alive  today  James  would  undoubtedly  include 
Schlick  and  Ayer  and  Stevenson  and  Noel-Smith,  not  to  men- 
tion some  of  the  philosophers  present  in  this  room. 

The  theory  James  calls  soft  determinism,  especially  the 
Hume-Mill-Schlick  variety  of  it,  has  been  extremely  fashion- 
able during  the  last  twenty-five  years,  while  hardly  anybody 
can  be  found  today  who  has  anj^hing  good  to  say  for  hard 
determinism.  In  opposition  to  this  contemporary  trend,  I 
should  like  to  strike  a  blow  on  behalf  of  hard  determinism  in 
my  talk  today,  I  shall  also  try  to  bring  out  exactly  what  is 
really  at  issue  between  hard  and  soft  determinism.  I  think 
the  nature  of  this  dispute  has  frequently  been  misconceived 
chiefly  because  many  writers,  including  James,  have  a  very 
inaccurate  notion  of  what  is  maintained  by  actual  hard  deter- 
minists,  as  distinct  from  the  bogey  men  they  set  up  in  order 
to  score  an  easy  victory. 

To  begin  witih,  it  is  necessary  to  spell  more  fully  the  main 
contentions  of  the  soft  determinists.  Since  it  is  the  dominant 
form  of  soft  determinism  at  the  present  time,  I  shall  confine 
myself  to  the  Hume-Mill-Schlick  theory.  According  to  this 
theory  there  is  in  the  first  place  no  contradiction  whatsoever 
between  determinism  and  the  proposition  that  human  beings 
are  sometimes  free  agents.  When  we  call  an  action  "free"  we 
never  in  any  ordinary  situation  mean  that  it  was  uncaused; 
and  this  emphatically  includes  the  kind  of  action  about  which 
we  pass  moral  judgments.  By  calling  an  action  "free"  we  mean 
;  that  the  agent  was  not  compelled  or  constained  to  perform  it. 
Sometimes  people  act  in  a  certain  way  because  of  threats  or 
because  they  have  been  drugged  or  because  of  a  posthypnotic 
suggestion  or  because  of  an  irrational  overpowering  urge  such 
as  the  one  that  makes  a  kleptomaniac  steal  something  he  does 
not  really  need.  On  such  occasions  human  beings  are  not  free 
agents.  But  on  other  occasions  they  act  in  certain  ways  be- 
cause of  their  own  rational  desires,  because  of  their  own  un- 
impeded efforts,  because  they  have  chosen  to  act  in  these 
ways.  On  these  occasions  they  are  free  agents  although  their 
actions  are  just  as  much  caused  as  actions  that  are  not  deemed 
free.  In  distinguishing  between  free  and  unfree  actions  we 
do  not  try  to  mark  the  presence  and  absence  of  causes  but 
attempt  to  indicate  the  kind  of  causes  that  are  present. 

Hard  and  Soft  Detenmnism     /     119 

*  Secondly  there  is  no  antithesis  between  determinism  and 
moral  responsibility.  When  we  judge  a  person  morally  respon- 
sible for  a  certain  action,  we  do  indeed  presuppose  that  he 
was  a  free  agent  at  the  time  of  the  action.  But  the  freedom 
presupposed  is  not  the  contracausal  freedom  about  which  in- 
determinists  go  into  such  ecstatic  raptures.  It  is  nothing  more 
than  the  freedom  already  mentioned- — the  ability  to  act  ac- 
cording to  one's  choices  or  desires.  Since  determinism  is  com- 
patible with  freedom  in  this  sense,  it  is  also  compatible  with 
moral  responsibility.  In  other  words,  the  world  is  after  all 
wonderful:  we  can  be  determinists  and  yet  go  on  punishing 
our  enemies  and  owe  children,  and  we  can  go  on  blaming  our- 
selves, all  without  a  bad  intellectual  conscience. 

\f  Mill,  who  was  probably  the  greatest  moralizer  among  the 
soft  determinists,  recognized  with  particular  satisfaction  the 
influence  or  alleged  influence  of  one  class  of  human  desires. 
Not^nly,  for  example,  does  such  lowly  desire  as  my  desire  to 
get  a  new  car  influence  my  conduct.  It  is  equally  true,  or  so 
at  least  Mill  believed,  that  my  desire  to  become  a  more  vir- 
tuous person  does  on  occasion  influence  my  actions.  By 
suitable  training  and  efforts  my  desire  to  change  my  char- 
acter may  in  fact  bring  about  the  desired  changes.  If  Mill  were 
alive  today  he  might  point  to  contemporary  psychiatry  as  an 
illustration  of  his  point.  Let  us  suppose  that  I  have  an  intense 
desire  to  become  famous,  but  that  I  also  have  an  intense  de- 
sire to  become  a  happier  and  more  lovable  person  who, 
among  other  things,  does  not  greatly  care  about  fame.  Let  us 
suppose,  furthermore,  that  I  know  of  a  therapy  that  can 
transform  fame-seeking  and  unlovable  into  lovable  and  fame- 
indifferent  character  structures.  If,  now,  I  have  enough 
money,  energy,  and  courage,  and  if  a  few  other  conditions 
are  fulfilled,  my  desire  may  actually  lead  to  a  major  change 
in  my  character.  Since  we  can,  therefore,  at  least  to  some 
extent,  form  our  own  character,  determinism  according  to. 
Millis_cprapatible  not  only  with  judgments  of  moral  responsi-^' 
bility  about  this  or  that  particular  action  flowing  from  an 
unimpeded  desire,  but  also,  within  limits,  with  moral  judg- 
ments about  the  character  of  human  beings. 

I  think  that  several  of  MUl's  observations  were  well  worth 
making  and  that  James's  verdict  on  his  theory  as  a  "quagmire 
of  evasion"  is  far  too  derogatory.  I  think  hard  determinists 
have  occasionally  written  in  such  a  way  as  to  suggest  that 
they  deny  the  causal  efficacy  of  human  desires  and  efforts. 
Thus  Holbach  wrote: 

120    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

You  will  say  that  I  feel  free.  This  is  an  illusion,  which  may  be 
compared  to  that  of  the  fly  in  the  fable,  who,  lighting  upon  the 
pole  of  a  heavy  carriage,  applauded  himself  for  directing  its 
course.  Man,  who  thinks  himself  free,  is  a  fly  who  imagines  he 
has  power  to  move  the  universe,  while  he  is  himself  unknow- 
ingly carried  along  by  it 

There  is  also  the  following  passage  in  Schopenhauer: 

Every  man,  being  what  he  is  and  placed  in  the  circumstances 
which  for  the  moment  obtain,  but  which  on  their  part  also  arise 
by  strict  necessity,  can  absolutely  never  do  anything  else  than 
just  what  at  that  moment  he  does  do.  Accordingly,  the  whole 
course  of  a  man's  life,  in  all  its  incidents  great  and  small,  is  as 
necessarily  predetermined  as  the  course  of  a  clock. 

Voltaire  expresses  himself  in  much  the  same  way  in  the  article 
on  "Destiny"  in  the  Philosophical  Dictionary. 

Everything  happens  through  immutable  laws,  .  .  .  everj^thing 
is  necessary.  .  .  ,  "There  are,"  some  persons  say,  "some  events 
which  are  necessary  and  others  which  are  not."  It  would  be  very 
comic  that  one  part  of  the  world  was  arranged,  and  the  other 
were  not;  that  one  part  of  what  happens  had  to  happen  and  that 
another  part  of  what  happens  did  not  have  to  happen.  If  one 
looks  closely  at  it,  one  sees  that  the  doctrine  contrary  to  that  of 
destiny  is  absurd;  but  there  are  many  people  destined  to  reason 
badly;  others  not  to  reason  at  all,  others  to  persecute  those  who 
reason.  .  .  . 

...  I  necessarily  have  the  passion  for  writing  this,  and  you 
have  the  passion  for  condemning  me;  both  of  us  are  equally 
fools,  equally  the  toy  of  destiny.  Your  nature  is  to  do  harm, 
mine  is  to  love  truth,  and  to  make  it  public  in  spite  of  you. 

Furthermore  there  can  be  little  doubt  that  Hume  and  Mill 
and  Schlick  were  a  great  deal  clearer  about  the  relation  be- 
tween motives  and  actions  than  the  hard  determinists,  who 
either  conceived  it,  like  Collins,  as  one  of  logical  necessity  or, 
like  Priestley  and  Voltaire  and  Schopenhauer,  as  necessarily 
involving  coercion  or  constraint. 

But  when  all  is  said  and  done,  there  remains  a  good  deal  of 
truth  in  James's  charge  that  soft  determinism  is  an  evasion. 
For  a  careful  reading  of  their  works  shows  that  none  of  the 
hard  determinists  really  denied  that  human  desires,  efforts, 
and  choices  make  a  difference  in  the  course  of  events.  Any 
remarks  to  the  contrary  are  at  most  temporary  lapses.  This, 
then,  is  hardly  the  point  at  issue.  If  it  is  not  the  point  at  issue. 

Hard  and  Soft  Determinism     /    121 

what  is?  Let  me  at  this  stage  imagine  a  hard  determinist  re- 
plying to  a  champion  of  the  Hume-MUl  theory:  "You  are 
right,"  he  would  say,  "in  maintaining  that  some  of  our  actions 
are  caused  by  our  desires  and  choices.  But  you  do  not  pursue 
the  subject  far  enough.  You  arbitrarily  stop  at  the  desires  and  t 
volitions.  We  must  not  stop  there.  We  must  go  on  to  ask  ' 
where  they  come  from;  and  if  determinism  is  true  there  can  i 
be  no  doubt  about  the  answer  to  this  question.  Ultimately  our 
desires  and  our  whole  character  are  derived  from  our  in- 
herited equipment  and  the  environmental  influences  to  which 
we  were  subjected  at  the  beginning  of  our  lives.  It  is  clear  that 
we  had  no  hand  in  shaping  either  of  these."  A  hard  determin- 
ist could  quote  a  number  of  eminent  supporters.  "Our  voli- 
tions and  our  desires,"  wrote  Holbach  in  his  little  book  Good 
Sense,  "are  never  in  our  power.  You  think  yourself  free,  be- 
cause you  do  what  you  will;  but  are  you  free  to  will  or  not  to 
will;  to  desire  or  not  to  desire?"  And  Schopenhauer  expressed 
the  same  thought  in  the  following  epigram:  "A  man  can 
surely  do  what  he  willsto  do,  but  he  cannot  determine  what 

LeTme  turn  once  more  to  the  topic  of  character  transfor- 
mation by  means  of  psychiatry  to  bring  out  this  point  with 
full  force.  Let  us  suppose  that  both  A  and  B  are  compulsive 
and  suffer  intensely  from  their  neuroses.  Let  us  assume  that 
there  is  a  therapy  that  could  help  them,  which  could  materially 
change  their  character  structure,  but  that  it  takes  a  great  deal 
of  energy  and  courage  to  undertake  the  treatment.  Let  us  sup- 
pose that  A  has  the  necessary  energy  and  courage  while  B 
lacks  it.  A  undergoes  the  therapy  and  changes  in  the  desired 
way.  B  just  gets  more  and  more  compulsive  and  more  and 
more  miserable.  Now,  it  is  true  that  A  helped  form  his  own  . 
later  character.  But  his  starting  point,  his  desire  to  change,  his'j 
energy  and  courage,  were  already  there.  They  may  or  may  not 
have  been  the  result  of  previous  efforts  on  his  own  part.  But 
there  must  have  been  a  first  effort,  and  the  effort  at  that  time 
was  the  result  of  factors  that  were  not  of  his  making. 

The  fact  that^  person's  character  is  ultimately  the  product 
of  factors  over  which  he  had  no  control  4s  not  denied  by  the 
soft  determinists,  though  many  of  them  don't  like  to  be  re- 
minded of  it  when  they  are  in  a  moralizing  mood.  Since  the 
hard  determinists  admit  that  our  desires  and  choices  do  on 
occasion  influence  the  course  of  our  lives,  there  is  thus  no 
disagreement  between  the  soft  and  the  hard  determinists  about 
the  empurical  facts.  However,  some  hard  determinists  infer 

122    /     Determinum  and  Freedom 

from  some  of  these  facts  that  human  beings  are  never  morally 
responsible  for  their  actions.  The  soft  determinists,  as  already 
stated,  do  not  draw  any  such  inference.  In  the  remainder  of 
my  paper  I  shall  try  to  show  just  what  it  is  that  hard  determin- 
ists are  inferring  and  why,  in  my  opinion,  they  are  justified  in 
their  conclusion. 

I  shall  begin  by  adopting  for  my  purposes  a  distinction  intro- 
duced by  C.  A.  Campbell  in  his  extremely  valuable  article  "Is 
Free  Will  a  Pseudo-Problem?"^  in  which  he  distinguishes  be- 
tween two  conceptions  of  moral  responsibility.  Different  per- 
sons, he  says,  require  different  conditions  to  be  fulfilled  before 
holding  human  beings  morally  responsible  for  what  they  do. 
First,  there  is  what  Campbell  calls  the  ordinary  unreflective 
person,  who  is  rather  ignorant  and  who  is  not  greatly  con- 
cerned with  the  theories  of  science,  philosophy,  and  religion. 
If  the  unreflective  person  is  sure  that  the  agent  to  be  judged 
was  acting  under  coercion  or  constraint,  he  will  not  hold  him 
responsible.  If,  however,  he  is  sure  that  the  action  was  per- 
formed in  accordance  with  the  agent's  unimpeded  rational 
desire,  if  he  is  sure  that  the  action  would  not  have  taken  place 
but  for  the  agent's  decision,  then  the  unreflective  person  will 
consider  ascription  of  moral  responsibility  justified.  The  fact 
that  the  agent  did  not  ultimately  make  his  own  character  will 
either  not  occur  to  him,  or  else  it  will  not  be  considered  a 
sufficient  ground  for  withholding  a  judgment  of  moral 

In  addition  to  such  unreflective  persons,  continues  Camp- 
bell, there  are  others  who  have  reached  "a  tolerably  advanced 
level  or  reflection." 

Such  a  person  will  doubtless  be  acquainted  with  the  claims 
advanced  in  some  quarters  that  causal  law  operates  universally; 
or/and  with  the  theories  of  some  philosophies  that  the  universe 
is  throughout  the  expression  of  a  single  supreme  principle;  or/ 
and  with  the  doctrines  of  some  theologians  that  the  world  is 
created,  sustained  and  governed  by  an  Omniscient  and  Omni- 
potent Being. 

Such  a  person  will  tend  to  require  the  fulfillment  of  a  further 
condition  before  holding  anybody  morally  responsible.  He  will 
require  not  only  that  the  agent  was  not  coerced  or  constrained 
but  also — and  this  is  taken  to  be  an  additional  condition — that 
he  "could  have  chosen  otherwise  than  he  actually  did."  I 

^Mtnd,  1951. 

Hard  and  Soft  Determinism     /    123 

should  prefer  to  put  this  somewhat  differently,  but  it  will  not 
affect  the  main  conclusion  drawn  by  Campbell,  with  which  I 
agree.  The  reflective  person,  I  should  prefer  to  express  it,  re- 
quires not  only  that  the  agent  was  not  coerced;  he  also  re- 
quires that  the  agent  originally  chose  his  own  character — the 
character  that  now  displays  itself  in  his  choices  and  desires 
and  efforts.  Campbell  concludes  that  determinism  is  indeed 
compatible  with  judgments  of  moral  responsibility  in  the  un- 
reflective  sense,  but  that  it  is  incompatible  with  judgments  of 
moral  responsilsility  in  the  reflective  sense. 

Although  I  do  not  follow  Campbell  in  rejecting  determin- 
ism, I  agree  basically  with  his  analysis,  with  one  other  quali- 
fication. I  do  not  think  it  is  a  question  of  the  different  senses  in 
which  the  term  is  used  by  ignorant  and  unreflective  people,  on 
the  one  hand,  and  by  those  who  are  interested  in  science, 
religion,  and  philosophy,  on  the  other.  The  very  same  persons, 
whether  educated  or  uneducated,  use  it  in  certain  contexts  in 
the  one  sense  and  in  other  contexts  in  the  other.  Practically 
all  human  beings,  no  matter  how  much  interested  they  are  in 
science,  religion,  and  philosophy,  employ  what  Campbell  calls 
the  unreflective  conception  when  they  are  dominated  by  vio- 
lent emotions  like  anger,  indignation,  or  hate,  and  especially 
when  the  conduct  they  are  judging  has  been  personally  injuri- 
ous to  them.  On  the  other  hand,  a  great  many  people,  whether 
they  are  educated  or  not,  will  employ  what  Campbell  calls  the 
reflective  conception  when  they  are  not  consumed  with  hate 
or  anger — when  they  are  judging  a  situation  calmly  and  re- 
flectively and  when  the  fact  that  the  agent  did  not  ultimately 
shape  his  own  character  has  been  vividly  brought  to  their  at- 
tention. Clarence  Darrow  in  his  celebrated  pleas  repeatedly 
appealed  to  the  jury  on  precisely  this  ground.  If  any  of  you, 
he  would  say,  had  been  reared  in  an  environment  like  that  of 
the  accused  or  had  to  suffer  from  his  defective  heredity,  you 
would  now  be  standing  in  the  dock.  I  cannot  refrain  at  this 
stage  from  reading  a  poem  written  by  the  hard  determinist, 
A.  E.  Housman,  which  Darrow  recited  on  such  occasions.  Its 
title  is  "The  Culprit,"  and  it  is  the  soliloquy  of  a  boy  about  to 
be  hanged. 

The  night  my  father  got  me 
His  mind  was  not  on  me; 

He  did  not  plague  his  fancy 
To  muse  if  I  should  be 
The  son  you  see. 

124    /     Determinum  and  Freedom 

The  day  my  mother  bore  me 

She  was  a  fool  and  glad. 
For  all  the  pain  I  cost  her. 

That  she  had  borne  the  lad 

That  borne  she  had. 

My  mother  and  my  father 

Out  of  the  light  they  lie; 
The  warrant  could  not  find  them. 

And  here  'tis  only  I 

Shall  hang  so  high. 

Oh  let  not  man  remember 

The  soul  that  God  forgot. 
But  fetch  the  county  kerchief 

And  noose  me  in  the  knot. 

And  I  will  rot. 

For  so  the  game  is  ended 

That  should  not  have  begun. 
My  father  and  my  mother 

They  had  a  likely  son, 

And  I  have  none.2 

Darrow  nearly  always  convinced  the  jury  that  the  accused 
could  not  be  held  morally  responsible  for  his  acts;  and  cer- 
tainly the  majority  of  the  jurors  were  relatively  uneducated. 

I  have  so  far  merely  distinguished  between  two  concepts  of 
moral  responsibility.  I  now  wish  to  go  a  step  farther  and  claim 
that  only  one  of  them  can  be  considered,  properly  speaking, 
a  moral  concept.  This  is  not  an  easy  point  to  make  clear,  but 
I  can  at  least  indicate  what  I  mean.  We  do  not  normally  con- 
sider just  any  positive  or  negative  feeling  a  "moral"  emotion. 
Nor  do  we  consider  just  any  sentence  containing  the  words 
"good"  or  "bad"  expressions  of  "moral"  judgment.  For  ex- 
ample, if  a  man  hates  a  woman  because  she  rejected  him,  this 
would  not  be  counted  as  a  moral  emotion.  If,  however,  he  dis- 
approves, say,  of  Senator  McCarthy's  libelous  speech  against 
Adlai  Stevenson  before  the  1952  election  because  he  disap- 
proves of  slander  in  general  and  not  merely  because  he  likes 
Stevenson  and  dislikes  McCarthy,  his  feeling  would  be 
counted  as  moral.  A  feeling  or  judgment  must  in  a  certain 
sense  be  "impersonal"  before  we  consider  it  moral.  To  this  I 

»From  The  Collected  Poems  oi  A.  E.  Housman.  Copyright,  1922,  1940  by 
Henry  Holt  and  Company,  Inc.  Copyright,  1950,  by  Barclays  Bank,  Ltd.  By 
permission  of  the  publishers. 

Hard  and  Soft  Determinism      /     125 

would  add  that  it  must  also  be  independent  of  violent  emo- 
tions.') Confining  myself  to  judgments,  I  would  say  that  a 
judgment  was  "moral"  only  if  it  was  formulated  in  a  calm  and 
reflective  mood,  or  at  least  if  it  is  supported  in  a  calm  and 
reflective  state  of  mind.  If  this  is  so,  it  follows  that  what 
Campbell  calls  the  reflective  sense  of  "moral  responsibiUty"  is 
the  only  one  that  qualifies  as  a  properly  moral  use  of  the  term. 
Before  I  conclude  I  wish  to  avoid  a  certain  misunderstand- 
ing of  my  remarks.  From  the  fact  that  human  beings  do  not 
ultimately  shape  their  own  character,  I  said,  it  follows  that 
they  are  never  morally  responsible.  I  do  not  mean  that  by 
reminding  people  of  the  ultimate  causes  of  their  character  one 
makes  them  more  charitable  and  less  vengeful.  Maybe  one 
does,  but  that  is  not  what  I  mean.  I  mean  "follow"  or  "imply" 
in  the  same  sense  as,  or  in  a  sense  closely  akin  to,  that  in 
which  the  conclusion  of  a  valid  syllogism  follows  from  the 
premises.  The  effectiveness  of  Darrow's  pleas  does  not  merely 
show,  I  am  arguing,  how  powerfully  he  could  sway  the  emo- 
tions of  the  jurors.  His  pleas  also  brought  into  the  open  one  of 
the  conditions  the  jurors,  like  others,  consider  necessary  on 
reflection  before  they  hold  an  agent  morally  responsible.  Or 
perhaps  I  should  say  that  Darrow  committed  the  jurors  in 
their  reflective  nature  to  a  certain  ground  for  the  ascription  of 
moral  responsibility.^ 

» Author's  Note.  This  paper  was  written  in  the  hope  of  stimulating  dis- 
cussion of  a  position  which  has  not  received  adequate  attention  in  recent 
years.  The  position  was  stated  rather  bluntly  and  without  the  necessary  quali- 
fications because  of  limitations  of  time.  I  hope  to  return  to  the  subject  at 
greater  length  In  the  near  future,  and  on  that  occasion  to  present  a  more 
balanced  treatment  which  wiU  attempt  to  meet  criticisms  made  in  the  dis- 
cussion.  {December  1957.) 

Chapter  3 

What  M@aii§  This  Freedom? 

John  Hospers,  Brooklyn  College 

I  AM  IN  AGREEMENT  to  a  vcry  large  extent  with  the  conclu- 
sions of  Professor  Edwards'  paper,  and  am  happy  in  these 
days  of  "soft  determinism"  to  hear  the  other  view  so  force- 
fully and  fearlessly  stated.  As  a  preparation  for  developing  my 
own  views  on  the  subject,  I  want  to  mention  a  factor  that  I 
think  is  of  enormous  importance  and  relevance:  namely,  un- 
conscious motivation.  There  are  many  actions — not  those  of 
an  insane  person  (however  the  term  "insane"  be  defined),  nor 
of  a  person  ignorant  of  the  effects  of  his  action,  nor  ignorant 
of  some  relevant  fact  about  the  situation,  nor  in  any  obvious 
way  mentally  deranged — for  which  human  beings  in  general 
and  the  courts  in  particular  are  inclined  to  hold  the  doer  re- 
sponsible, and  for  which,  I  would  say,  he  should  not  be  held 
responsible.  The  deed  may  be  planned,  it  may  be  carried  out 
in  cold  calculation,  it  may  spring  from  the  agent's  character 
and  be  continuous  with  the  rest  of  his  behavior,  and  it  may  be 
perfectly  true  that  he  could  have  done  differently  //  he  had 
wanted  to;  nonetheless  his  behavior  was  brought  about  by 
unconscious  conflicts  developed  in  infancy,  over  which  he  had 
no  control  and  of  which  (without  training  in  psychiatry)  he 
does  not  even  have  knowledge.  He  may  even  think  he  knows 
why  he  acted  as  he  did,  he  may  think  he  has  conscious  control 
over  his  actions,  he  may  even  think  he  is  fully  responsible  for 
them;  but  he  is  not.  Psychiatric  casebooks  provide  hundreds  of 
examples.  The  law  and  common  sense,  though  puzzled  some- 
times by  such  cases,  are  gradually  becoming  aware  that  they 
exist;  but  at  this  early  stage  countless  tragic  blunders  still 
occur  because  neither  the  law  nor  the  public  in  general  is 
aware  of  the  genesis  of  criminal  actions.  The  mother  blames 
her  daughter  for  choosing  the  wrong  men  as  candidates  for 
husbands;  but  though  the  daughter  thinks  she  is  choosing 
freely  and  spends  a  considerable  amount  of  time  "deciding" 
among  them,  the  identification  with  her  sick  father,  resulting 
from  Oedipal  fantasies  in  early  childhood,  prevents  her  from 
caring  for  any  but  sick  men,  twenty  or  thirty  years  older  than 
herself.  Blaming  her  is  beside  the  point;  she  cannot  help  it, 


What  Means  This  Freedom?      /    127 

and  she  cannot  change  it.  Countless  criminal  acts  are  thought  ^ 
out  in  great  detail;  yet  the  participants  are  (without  their  own    , 
knowledge)    acting  out   fantasies,  fears,   and  defenses  from    ; 
early  childhood,  over  whose  coming  and  going  they  have  no 
conscious  control. 

Now,  I  am  not  saying  that  none  of  these  persons  should  be 
in  jails  or  asylums.  Often  society  must  be  protected  against 
them.  Nor  am  I  saying  that  people  should  cease  the  practices 
of  blaming  and  praising,  punishing  and  rewarding;  in  general 
these  devices  are  justified  by  the  results — although  very  often 
they  have  practically  no  effect;  the  deeds  are  done  from  inner 
compulsion,  which  is  not  lessened  when  the  threat  of  punish- 
ment is  great.  I  am  only  saying  that  frequently  persons  we 
think  responsible  are  not  properly  to  be  called  so;  we  mis- 
takenly think  them  responsible  because  we  assume  they  are 
like  those  in  whom  no  unconscious  drive  (toward  this  type  of 
behavior)  is  present,  and  that  their  behavior  can  be  changed 
by  reasoning,  exhorting,  or  threatening. 

I  have  said  that  these  persons  are  not  responsible.  But  what 
is  the  criterion  for  responsibility?  Under  precisely  what  con- 
ditions is  a  person  to  be  held  morally  responsible  for  an  ac- 
tion? Disregarding  here  those  conditions  that  have  to  do  with 
a  person's  ignorance  of  the  situation  or  the  effects  of  his 
action,  let  us  concentrate  on  those  having  to  do  with  his  "inner 
state."  There  are  several  criteria  that  might  be  suggested: 

1 .  The  first  idea  that  comes  to  mind  is  that  responsibility  is 
determined  by  the  presence  or  absence  of  premeditation — the 
opposite  of  "premeditated"  being,  presumably,  "unthinking" 
or  "impulsive."  But  this  will  not  do — ^both  because  some  acts 
are  not  premeditated  but  responsible,  and  because  some  are 
premeditated  and  not  responsible. 

Many  acts  we  call  responsible  can  be  as  unthinking  or  im- 
pulsive as  you  please.  If  you  rush  across  the  street  to  help  the 
victim  of  an  automobile  collision,  you  are  (at  least  so  we 
would  ordinarily  say)  acting  responsibly,  but  you  did  not  do 
so  out  of  premeditation;  you  saw  the  accident,  you  didn't 
think,  you  rushed  to  the  scene  without  hesitation.  It  was  like 
a  reflex  action.  But  you  acted  responsibly:  unlike  the  knee 
jerk,  the  act  was  the  result  of  past  training  and  past  thought 
about  situations  of  this  kind;  that  is  why  you  ran  to  help  in- 
stead of  ignoring  the  incident  or  rurming  away.  When  some- 
thing done  originally  from  conviction  or  training  becomes 

128    /  Detenninism  and  Freedom 

habitual,  it  becomes  like  a  reflex  action.  As  Aristotle  said, 
virtue  should  become  second  nature  through  habit:  a  virtuous 
act  should  be  performed  as  //  by  instinct;  this,  far  from  de- 
tracting from  its  moral  worth,  testifies  to  one's  mastery  of  the 
desired  type  of  behavior;  one  does  not  have  to  make  a  moral 
effort  each  time  it  is  repeated. 

There  are  also  premeditated  acts  for  which,  I  would  say, 
the  person  is  not  responsible.  Premeditation,  especially  when 
it  is  so  exaggerated  as  to  issue  in  no  action  at  all,  can  be  the 
result  of  neurotic  disturbance  or  what  we  sometimes  call  an 
emotional  "block,"  which  the  person  inherits  from  long-past 
situations.  In  Hamlet's  revenge  on  his  uncle  (I  use  this  ex- 
ample because  it  is  familiar  to  all  of  us),  there  was  no  lack, 
but  rather  a  surfeit,  of  premeditation;  his  actions  were  so 
exquisitely  premeditated  as  to  make  Freud  and  Dr.  Ernest 
Jones  look  more  closely  to  find  out  what  lay  behind  them.  The 
very  premeditation  camouflaged  unconscious  motives  of  which 
Hamlet  himself  was  not  aware.  I  think  this  is  an  important 
point,  since  it  seems  that  the  courts  often  assume  that  pre- 
meditation is  a  criterion  of  responsibility.  If  failure  to  kill  his 
uncle  had  been  considered  a  crime,  every  court  in  the  land 
would  have  convicted  Hamlet.  Again:  a  woman's  decision  to 
stay  with  her  husband  in  spite  of  endless  "mental  cruelty"  is, 
if  she  is  the  victim  of  an  unconscious  masochistic  "will  to 
punishment,"  one  for  which  she  is  not  responsible;  she  is  the 
victim  and  not  the  agent,  no  matter  how  profound  her  convic- 
tion that  she  is  the  agent;  she  is  caught  in  a  masochistic  web 
(of  complicated  genesis)  dating  back  to  babyhood,  perhaps 
a  repetition  of  a  comparable  situation  involving  her  own 
parents,  a  repetition-compulsion  that,  as  Freud  said,  goes  "be- 
yond the  pleasure  principle."  Again:  a  criminal  whose  crime 
was  carefully  planned  step  by  step  is  usually  considered  re- 
sponsible, but  as  we  shall  see  in  later  examples,  the  over- 
whelming impulse  toward  it,  stemming  from  an  unusually 
humiliating  ego  defeat  in  early  childhood,  was  as  compulsive 
as  any  can  be. 

2.  Shall  we  say,  then,  that  a  person  is  not  responsible  for  his 
act  unless  he  can  defend  it  with  reasons?  I  am  afraid  that  this 
criterion  is  no  better  than  the  previous  one.  First,  intellectuals 
are  usually  better  at  giving  reasons  than  nonintellectuals,  and 
according  to  this  criterion  would  be  more  responsible  than 
persons  acting  from  moral  conviction  not  implemented  by 
reasoning;  yet  it  is  very  doubtful  whether  we  should  want  to 
say  that  the  latter  are  the  more  responsible.  Second,  the  giving 

What  Means  This  Freedom?   /     129 

of  reasons  itself  may  be  suspect.  The  reasons  may  be  rationali- 
zations camouflaging  unconscious  motives  of  which  the  agent 
knows  nothing.  Hamlet  gave  many  reasons  for  not  doing  what 
he  felt  it  was  his  duty  to  do:  the  time  was  not  right,  his  uncle's 
soul  might  go  to  heaven,  etc.  His  various  "reasons"  contra- 
dicted one  another,  and  if  an  overpowering  compulsion  had 
not  been  present,  the  highly  intellectual  Hamlet  would  not 
have  been  taken  in  for  a  moment  by  these  rationalizations. 
The  real  reason,  the  Oedipal  conflict  that  made  his  uncle's 
crime  the  accomplishment  of  his  own  deepest  desire,  binding 
their  fates  into  one  and  paralyzing  him  into  inaction,  was  un-  | 
conscious  and  of  course  unknown  to  him.  One's  intelligence  tl 
and  reasoning  power  do  not  enable  one  to  escape  from  un-  p 
consciously  motivated  behavior;  it  only  gives  one  greater  facil-  | 
ity  in  rationalizing  that  behavior;  one's  intelligence  is  simply  | 
used  in  the  interests  of  the  neurosis — it  is  pressed  into  service 
to  justfy  with  reasons  what  one  does  quite  independently  of 
the  reasons. 

If  these  two  criteria  are  inadequate,  let  us  seek  others. 

3.  Shall  we  say  that  a  person  is  responsible  for  his  action 
unless  it  is  the  result  of  unconscious  forces  of  which  he  knows 
nothing?  Many  psychoanalysts  would  probably  accept  this 
criterion.  If  it  is  not  largely  reflected  in  the  language  of  re- 
sponsibility as  ordinarily  used,  this  may  be  due  to  ignorance 
of  fact:  most  people  do  not  know  that  there  are  such  things 
as  unconscious  motives  and  unconscious  conflicts  causing  hu- 
man beings  to  act.  But  it  may  be  that  if  they  did,  perhaps  they 
would  refrain  from  holding  persons  responsible  for  certain 

I  do  not  wish  here  to  quarrel  with  this  criterion  of  re- 
sponsibility. I  only  want  to  point  out  the  fact  that  if  this  criter- 
ion is  employed  a  far  greater  number  of  actions  will  be  ex- 
cluded from  the  domain  of  responsibility  than  we  might  at 
first  suppose.  Whether  we  are  neat  or  untidy,  whether  we  are 
selfish  or  unselfish,  whether  we  provoke  scenes  or  avoid  them, 
even  whether  we  can  exert  our  powers  of  will  to  change  our 
behavior — all  these  may,  and  often  do,  have  their  source  in 
our  unconscious  life. 

4.  Shall  we  say  that  a  person  is  responsible  for  his  act  un- 
less it  is  compelled?  Here  we  are  reminded  of  Aristotle's  as- 
sertion {Nicomachean  Ethics,  Book  III)  that  a  person  is 
responsible  for  his  act  except  for  reasons  of  either  ignorance 
or  compulsion.  Ignorance  is  not  part  of  our  problem  here  (un- 
less it  is  unconsciously  induced  ignorance  of  facts  previously 

130    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

remembered  and  selectively  forgotten — in  which  case  the  for- 
getting is  again  compulsive),  but  compulsion  is.  How  will 
compulsion  do  as  a  criterion?  The  difficulty  is  to  state  just 
what  it  means.  When  we  say  an  act  is  compelled  in  a  psycho- 
logical sense,  our  language  is  metaphorical — which  is  not  to 
say  that  there  is  no  point  in  it  or  that,  properly  interpreted,  it 
is  not  true.  Our  actions  are  compelled  in  a  literal  sense  if 
someone  has  us  in  chains  or  is  controlling  our  bodily  move- 
ments. When  we  say  that  the  storm  compelled  us  to  jettison 
the  cargo  of  the  ship  (Aristotle's  example),  we  have  a  less 
literal  sense  of  compulsion,  for  at  least  it  is  open  to  us  to  go 
down  with  the  ship.  When  psychoanalysts  say  that  a  man  was 
compelled  by  unconscious  conflicts  to  wash  his  hands  con- 
stantly, this  is  also  not  a  literal  use  of  "compel";  for  nobody 
forced  his  hands  under  the  tap.  Still,  it  is  a  typical  example 
of  what  psychologists  call  compulsive  behavior:  it  has  uncon- 
scious causes  inaccessible  to  introspection,  and  moreover  noth- 
ing can  change  it — it  is  as  inevitable  for  him  to  do  it  as  it 
would  be  if  someone  were  forcing  his  hands  under  the  tap.  In 
this  it  is  exactly  hke  the  action  of  a  powerful  external  force;  it 
is  just  as  little  within  one's  conscious  control. 

In  its  area  of  application  this  interpretation  of  responsibility 
comes  to  much  the  same  as  the  previous  one.  And  this  area 
.  is  very  great  indeed.  For  if  we  cannot  be  held  responsible  for 
I  the  infantile  situations  (in  which  we  were  after  all  passive 
victims),  then  neither,  it  would  seem,  can  we  be  held  respon- 
sible for  compulsive  actions  occurring  in  adulthood  that  are 
inevitable  consequences  of  those  infantile  situations.  And, 
psychiatrists  and  psychoanalysts  tell  us,  actions  fulfilling  this 
description  are  characteristic  of  all  people  some  of  the  time 
and  some  people  most  of  the  time.  Their  occurrence,  once  the 
infantile  events  have  taken  place,  is  inevitable,  just  as  the  ex- 
plosion is  inevitable  once  the  fuse  has  been  lighted;  there  is 
simply  more  "delayed  action"  in  the  psychological  explosions 
than  there  is  in  the  physical  ones. 

(I  have  not  used  the  word  "inevitable"  here  to  mean 
"causally  determined,"  for  according  to  such  a  definition  every 
event  would  be  inevitable  if  one  accepted  the  causal  principle 
in  some  form  or  other;  and  probably  nobody  except  certain 
philosophers  uses  "inevitable"  in  this  sense.  Rather,  I  use 
"inevitable"  in  its  ordinary  sense  of  "cannot  be  avoided."  To 
the  extent,  therefore,  that  adult  neurotic  manifestations  can 
be  avoided,  once  the  infantile  patterns  have  become  set,  the 
assertion  that  they  are  inevitable  is  not  true.) 

What  Means  This  Freedom?  /     131 

5.  There  is  still  another  criterion,  which  I  prefer  to  the 
previous  ones,  by  which  a  man's  responsibility  for  an  act  can 
be  measured:  the  degree  to  which  that  act  can  (or  could  have 
been)  changed  by  the  use  of  reasons.  Suppose  that  the  man 
who  washes  his  hands  constantly  does  so,  he  says,  for  hygienic 
reasons,  believing  that  if  he  doesn't  do  so  he  will  be  poisoned 
by  germs.  We  now  convince  him,  on  the  best  medical  author-  f, 
ity,  that  his  belief  is  groundless.  Now,  the  test  of  his  responsi- 
bility is  whether  the  changed  belief  will  result  in  changed  be-  ' 
havior.  If  it  does  not,  as  with  the  compulsive  hand  washer,  he 
is  not  acting  responsibly,  but  if  it  does,  he  is.  It  is  not  the  use 
of  reasons,  but  their  efficacy  in  changing  behavior,  that  is 
being  made  the  criterion  of  responsibility.  And  clearly  in 
neurotic  cases  no  such  change  occurs;  in  fact,  this  is  often 
made  the  defining  characteristic  of  neurotic  behavior:  it  is 
unchangeable  by  any  rational  considerations. 


I  have  suggested  these  criteria  to  distinguish  actions  for 
which  we  can  call  the  agent  responsible  from  those  for  which 
we  cannot.  Even  persons  with  extensive  knowledge  of  psychi- 
atry do  not,  I  think,  use  any  one  of  these  criteria  to  the  exclu- 
sion of  the  others;  a  conjunction  of  two  or  more  may  be  used 
at  once.  But  however  they  may  be  combined  or  selected  in 
actual  application,  I  believe  we  can  make  the  distinction  along 
some  such  lines  as  we  have  suggested. 

But  is  there  not  still  another  possible  meaning  of  "responsi- 
bility" that  we  have  not  yet  mentioned?  Even  after  we  have 
made  all  the  above  distinctions,  there  remains  a  question  in 
our  minds  whether  we  are,  in  the  final  analysis,  responsible  for 
any  of  our  actions  at  all.  The  issue  may  be  put  this  way:  How 
can  anyone  be  responsible  for  his  actions,  since  they  grow  out 
of  his  character,  which  is  shaped  and  molded  and  made  what 
it  is  by  influences — some  hereditary,  but  most  of  them  stem- 
ming from  early  parental  environment — that  were  not  of  his 
own  making  or  choosing?  This  question,  I  believe,  still 
troubles  many  people  who  would  agree  to  all  the  distinctions 
we  have  just  made  but  still  have  the  feeling  that  "this  isn't  all." 
They  have  the  uneasy  suspicion  that  there  is  a  more  ultimate 
sense,  a  "deeper"  sense,  in  which  we  are  not  responsible  for 
our  actions,  since  we  are  not  responsible  for  the  character  out 
of  which  those  actions  spring.  This,  of  course,  is  the  sense 
Professor  Edwards  was  describing. 

Let  us  take  as  an  example  a  criminal  who,  let  us  say. 

132    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

strangled  several  persons  and  is  himself  now  condemned  to 
die  in  the  electric  chair.  Jury  and  public  alike  hold  him  fully 
responsible  (at  least  they  utter  the  words  "he  is  responsible"), 
for  the  murders  were  planned  down  to  the  minutest  detail,  and 
the  defendant  tells  the  jury  exactly  how  he  planned  them.  But 
now  we  find  out  how  it  all  came  about;  we  learn  of  parents 
who  rejected  him  from  babyhood,  of  the  childhood  spent  in 
one  foster  home  after  another,  where  it  was  always  plain  to 
him  that  he  was  not  wanted;  of  the  constantly  frustrated  early 
desire  for  affection,  the  hard  shell  of  nonchalance  and  bitter- 
ness that  he  assumed  to  cover  the  painful  and  humiliating  fact 
of  being  unwanted,  and  his  subsequent  attempts  to  heal  these 
wounds  to  his  shattered  ego  through  defensive  aggression. 

The  criminal  is  the  most  passive  person  in  this  world,  helpless 
as  a  baby  in  his  motorically  inexpressible  fury.  Not  only  does  he 
try  to  wreak  revenge  on  the  mother  of  the  earliest  period  of  his 
babyhood;  his  criminality  is  based  on  the  inner  feeling  of  being 
incapable  of  making  the  mother  even  feel  that  the  child  seeks 
revenge  on  her.  The  situation  is  that  of  a  dwarf  trying  to  annoy 
a  giant  who  superciliously  refuses  to  see  these  attempts.  .  .  . 
Because  of  his  inner  feeling  of  being  a  dwarf,  the  criminotic 
uses,  so  to  speak,  dynamite.  Of  that  the  giant  must  take  cogni- 
zance. True,  the  "revenge"  harms  the  avenger.  He  may  be 
legally  executed.  However,  the  primary  inner  aim  of  forcing 
the  giant  to  acknowledge  the  dwarf's  fury  is  fulfilled.^ 

The  poor  victim  is  not  conscious  of  the  inner  forces  that  exact 
from  him  this  ghastly  toll;  he  battles,  he  schemes,  he  revels  in 
pseudo-aggression,  he  is  miserable,  but  he  does  not  know 
what  works  within  him  to  produce  these  catastrophic  acts  of 
crime.  His  aggressive  actions  are  the  wriggling  of  a  worm  on 
a  fisherman's  hook.  And  if  this  is  so,  it  seems  difficult  to  say 
any  longer,  "He  is  responsible."  Rather,  we  shall  put  him  be- 
hind bars  for  the  protection  of  society,  but  we  shall  no  longer 
flatter  our  feeling  of  moral  superiority  by  calling  him  person- 
ally responsible  for  what  he  did. 

Let  us  suppose  it  were  established  that  a  man  commits 
murder  only  if,  sometime  during  the  previous  week,  he  has 
eaten  a  certain  combination  of  foods — say,  tuna  fish  salad  at 
a  meal  also  including  peas,  mushroom  soup,  and  blueberry 
pie.  What  if  we  were  to  track  down  the  factors  common  to  all 
murders  committed  in  this  country  during  the  last  twenty 

1  Edmund  Bergler,  The  Basic  Neurosis  (New  York:  Grune  and  Stratton, 
1949),  p.  305. 

What  Means  This  Freedom?  /     133 

years  and  found  this  factor  present  in  all  of  them,  and  only 
in  them?  The  example  is  of  course  empirically  absurd;  but 
may  it  not  be  that  there  is  some  combination  of  factors  that 
regularly  leads  to  homicide,  factors  such  as  are  described  in 
general  terms  in  the  above  quotation?  (Indeed  the  situation  in 
the  quotation  is  less  fortunate  than  in  our  hypothetical  ex- 
ample, for  it  is  easy  to  avoid  certain  foods  once  we  have  been 
warned  about  them,  but  the  situation  of  the  infant  is  thrust 
on  him;  something  has  already  happened  to  him  once  and  for 
all,  before  he  knows  it  has  happened.)  When  such  specific 
factors  are  discovered,  won't  they  make  it  clear  that  it  is  fool- 
ish and  pointless,  as  well  as  immoral,  to  hold  human  beings 
responsible  for  crimes?  Or,  if  one  prefers  biological  to  psycho- 
logical factors,  suppose  a  neurologist  is  called  in  to  testify 
at  a  murder  trial  and  produces  X-ray  pictures  of  the  brain  of 
the  criminal;  anyone  can  see,  he  argues,  that  the  cella  turcica 
was  already  calcified  at  the  age  of  nineteen;  it  should  be  a 
flexible  bone,  growing,  enabling  the  gland  to  grow.^  All  the 
defendant's  disorders  might  have  resulted  from  this  early  cal- 
cification. Now,  this  particular  explanation  may  be  empirically 
false;  but  who  can  say  that  no  such  factors,  far  more  complex, 
to  be  sure,  exist? 

When  we  know  such  things  as  these,  we  no  longer  feel  so 
much  tempted  to  say  that  the  criminal  is  responsible  for  his 
crime;  and  we  tend  also  (do  we  not?)  to  excuse  him  —  not 
legally  (we  still  confine  him  to  prison)  but  morally;  we  no 
longer  call  him  a  monster  or  hold  him  personally  responsible 
for  what  he  did.  Moreover,  we  do  this  in  general,  not  merely 
in  the  case  of  crime:  "You  must  excuse  Grandmother  for 
being  irritable;  she's  really  quite  ill  and  is  suffering  some  pain 
all  the  time."  Or:  "The  dog  always  bites  children  after  she's 
had  a  litter  of  pups;  you  can't  blame  her  for  it:  she's  not  feel- 
ing well,  and  besides  she  naturally  wants  to  defend  them."  Or: 
"She's  nervous  and  jumpy,  but  do  excuse  her:  she  has  a  severe 
glandular  disturbance."  , 

Let  us  note  that  the  more  thoroughly  and  in  detail  we  know 
the  causal  factors  leading  a  person  to  behave  as  he  does,  the 
more  we  tend  to  exempt  him  from  responsibility.  When  we 
know  nothing  of  the  man  except  what  we  see  him  do,  we  say 
he  is  an  ungrateful  cad  who  expects  much  of  other  people  and 
does  nothing  in  return,  and  we  are  usually  indignant.  When 
we  leam  that  his  parents  were  the  same  way  and,  having  no 

=  Meyer  Levin,  Compulsion  (New  York:  Simon  and  Schuster,  1956),  p. 

134    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

guilt  feelings  about  this  mode  of  behavior  themselves,  brought 
him  up  to  be  greedy  and  avaricious,  we  see  that  we  could 
hardly  expect  him  to  have  developed  moral  feelings  in  this 
direction.  When  we  learn,  in  addition,  that  he  is  not  aware  of 
being  ungrateful  or  selfish,  but  unconsciously  represses  the 
memory  of  events  unfavorable  to  himself,  we  feel  that  the 
situation  is  unfortunate  but  "not  really  his  fault."  When  we 
know  that  this  behavior  of  his,  which  makes  others  angry,  oc- 
curs more  constantly  when  he  feels  tense  or  insecure,  and  that 
he  now  feels  tense  and  insecure,  and  that  relief  from  pressure 
will  diminish  it,  then  we  tend  to  "feel  sorry  for  the  poor  guy" 
and  say  he's  more  to  be  pitied  than  censured.  We  no  longer 
want  to  say  that  he  is  personally  responsible;  we  might  rather 
blame  nature  or  his  parents  for  having  given  him  an  unfortun- 
ate constitution  or  temperament. 

In  recent  years  a  new  form  of  punishment  has  been  imposed 
on  middle-aged  and  elderly  parents.  Their  children,  now  in  their 
twenties,  thirties  or  even  forties,  present  them  with  a  modem 
grievance:  "My  analysis  proves  that  you  are  responsible  for  my 
neurosis."  Overawed  by  these  authoritative  statements,  the  poor 
tired  parents  fall  easy  victims  to  the  newest  variations  on  the 
scapegoat  theory. 

In  my  opinion,  this  senseless  cruelty — ^which  disinters  educa- 
tional sins  which  had  been  burned  for  decades,  and  uses  them  as 
the  basis  for  accusations  which  the  victims  cannot  answer — is 
unjustified.  Yes  "the  truth  loves  to  be  centrally  located"  (Mel- 
ville), and  few  parents — since  they  are  human — ^have  been  per- 
fect. But  granting  their  mistakes,  they  acted  as  their  neurotic 
difficulties  forced  them  to  act.  To  turn  the  tables  and  declare 
the  children  not  guilty  because  of  the  impersonal  nature  of  their 
own  neuroses,  while  at  the  same  time  the  parents  are  personally 
blamed,  is  worse  than  illogical;  it  is  profoxmdly  unjust.^ 

And  so,  it  would  now  appear,  neither  of  the  parties  is  respon- 
sible: "they  acted  as  their  neurotic  difficulties  forced  them  to 
act."  The  patients  are  not  responsible  for  their  neurotic  mani- 
festations, but  then  neither  are  the  parents  responsible  for 
theirs;  and  so,  of  course,  for  their  parents  in  turn,  and  theirs 
before  them.  It  is  the  twentieth-century  version  of  the  family 
curse,  the  curse  on  the  House  of  Atreus. 

"But,"  a  critic  complains,  "it's  immoral  to  exonerate  people 
indiscriminately  in  this  way.  I  might  have  thought  it  fit  to 

•  Edmund  Bergler,  The  Superego  (New  York:  Onme  and  Stratton,  1952), 
p.  320. 

What  Means  This  Freedom?  /     135 

excuse  somebody  because  he  was  born  on  the  other  side  of  the 
tracks,  if  I  didn't  know  so  many  bank  presidents  who  were 
also  born  on  the  other  side  of  the  tracks."  Now,  I  submit  that 
the  most  immoral  thing  in  this  situation  is  the  critic's  carica- 
ture of  the  conditions  of  the  excuse.  Nobody  is  excused 
merely  because  he  was  born  on  the  other  side  of  the  tracks. 
But  if  he  was  born  on  the  other  side  of  the  tracks  and  was  a 
highly  narcissistic  infant  to  begin  with  and  was  repudiated 
or  neglected  by  his  parents  and  .  .  .  (here  we  list  a  finite  num- 
ber of  conditions),  and  if  this  complex  of  factors  is  regularly 
followed  by  certain  behavior  traits  in  adulthood,  and  more- 
over unavoidably  so — that  is,  they  occur  no  matter  what  he 
or  anyone  else  tries  to  do— then  we  excuse  him  morally  and 
say  he  is  not  responsible  for  his  deed.  If  he  is  not  responsible  ' 
for  A,  a  series  of  events  occurring  in  his  babyhood,  then 
neither  is  he  responsible  for  B,  a  series  of  things  he  does  in 
adulthood,  provided  that  B  inevitably — ^that  is,  unavoidably 
— follows  upon  the  occurrence  of  A.  And  according  to  psychi- 
atrists and  psychoanalysts,  this  often  happens. ) 

But  one  may  still  object  that  so  far  we  have  talked  only 
about  neurotic  behavior.  Isn't  nonneurotic  or  normal  or  not 
unconsciously  motivated  (or  whatever  you  want  to  call  it) 
behavior  still  within  the  area  of  responsibility?  There  are 
reasons  for  answering  "No"  even  here,  for  the  normal  person 
no  more  than  the  neurotic  one  has  caused  his  own  character, 
which  makes  him  what  he  is.  Granted  that  neurotics  are  not 
responsible  for  their  behavior  (that  part  of  it  which  we  call 
neurotic)  because  it  stems  from  undigested  infantile  conflicts 
that  they  had  no  part  in  bringing  about,  and  that  are  external  to 
them  just  as  surely  as  if  their  behavior  had  been  forced  on 
them  by  a  malevolent  deity  (which  is  indeed  one  theory  on 
the  subject);  but  the  so-called  normal  person  is  equally  the 
product  of  causes  in  which  his  volition  took  no  part.  And  if, 
unlike  the  neurotic's,  his  behavior  is  changeable  by  rational 
considerations,  and  if  he  has  the  will  power  to  overcome  the 
effects  of  an  unfortunate  early  environment,  this  again  is  no 
credit  to  him;  he  is  just  lucky.  If  energy  is  available  to  him  in 
a  form  in  which  it  can  be  mobilized  for  constructive  purposes, 
this  is  no  credit  to  him,  for  this  too  is  part  of  his  psychic  leg- 
acy. Those  of  us  who  can  discipline  ourselves  and  develop 
habits  of  concentration  of  purpose  tend  to  blame  those  who 
cannot,  and  call  them  lazy  and  weak-willed;  but  what  we  fail 
to  see  is  that  they  literally  cannot  do  what  we  expect;  if  their 
psyches  were  structured  like  ours,  they  could,  but  as  they  are 

136    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

burdened  with  a  tyrannical  super-ego  (to  use  psychoanalytic 
jargon  for  the  moment),  and  a  weak  defenseless  ego  whose 
energies  are  constantly  consumed  in  fighting  endless  charges 
of  the  superego,  they  simply  cannot  do  it,  and  it  is  irrational 
to  expect  it  of  them.  We  cannot  with  justification  blame  them 
for  their  inability,  any  more  than  we  can  congratulate  our- 
selves for  our  ability.  This  lesson  is  hard  to  learn,  for  we  con- 
stantly and  naively  assume  that  other  people  are  constructed 
as  we  ourselves  are. 

For  example:  A  child  raised  under  slum  conditions,  whose 
parents  are  socially  ambitious  and  envy  families  with  money, 
but  who  nevertheless  squander  the  little  they  have  on  drink, 
may  simply  be  unable  in  later  life  to  mobilize  a  drive  sufficient 
to  overcome  these  early  conditions.  Common  sense  would 
expect  that  he  would  develop  the  virtue  of  thrift;  he  would 
make  quite  sure  that  be  would  never  again  endure  the  grind- 
ing poverty  he  had  experienced  as  a  child.  But  in  fact  it  is  not 
so:  the  exact  conditions  are  too  complex  to  be  specified  in  de- 
tail here,  but  when  certain  conditions  are  fulfilled  (concerning 
the  subject's  early  life),  he  will  always  thereafter  be  a  spend- 
thrift, and  no  rational  considerations  will  be  able  to  change 
this.  He  will  listen  to  the  rational  considerations  and  see  the 
force  of  these,  but  they  will  not  be  able  to  change  him,  even 
if  he  tries;  he  cannot  change  his  wasteful  habits  any  more  than 
he  can  lift  the  Empire  State  Building  with  his  bare  hands.  We 
moralize  and  plead  with  him  to  be  thrifty,  but  we  do  not  see 
bow  strong,  how  utterly  overpowering,  and  how  constantly 
with  him,  is  the  opposite  drive,  which  is  so  easily  manageable 
with  us.  But  he  is  possessed  by  the  all-consuming,  all-encom- 
passing urge  to  make  the  world  see  that  he  belongs,  that  he 
has  arrived,  that  he  is  just  as  well  oflE  as  anyone  else,  that  the 
awful  humiliations  were  not  real,  that  they  never  actually  oc- 
curred, for  isn't  he  now  able  to  spend  and  spend?  The  humilia- 
tion must  be  blotted  out;  and  conspicuous,  fleshy,  expensive, 
and  wasteful  buying  will  do  this;  it  shows  the  world  what 
the  world  must  know!  True,  it  is  only  for  the  moment;  true, 
it  is  m  the  end  self-defeating,  for  wasteful  consumption  is  the 
best  way  to  bring  poverty  back  again;  but  the  person  with  an 
overpowering  drive  to  mend  a  lesion  to  his  narcissism  cannot 
resist  the  avalanche  of  that  drive  with  his  puny  rational  con- 
sideration. A  man  with  his  back  against  the  wall  and  a  gun  at 
his  throat  doesn't  think  of  what  may  happen  ten  years  hence. 
(Consciously,  of  course,  he  knows  nothing  of  this  drive;  all 
that  appears  to  consciousness  is  its  shattering  effects;  he 

WThiat  Means  This  Freedom?   /    137 

knows  only  that  he  must  keep  on  spending — not  why — and 
that  he  is  unable  to  resist.)  He  hasn't  in  him  the  psychic  ca- 
pacity, the  energy  to  stem  the  tide  of  a  drive  that  at  that  mo- 
ment is  all-powerful.  We,  seated  comfortably  away  from  this 
flood,  sit  in  judgment  on  him  and  blame  him  and  exhort  him 
and  criticize  him;  but  he,  carried  along  by  the  flood,  cannot 
do  otherwise  than  he  does.  He  may  fight  with  all  the  strength 
of  which  he  is  capable,  but  it  is  not  enough.  And  we,  who  are 
rational  enough  at  least  to  exonerate  a  man  in  a  situation  of 
"overpowering  impulse"  when  we  recognize  it  to  be  one,  do 
not  even  recognize  this  as  an  example  of  it;  and  so,  in  addition 
to  being  swept  away  in  the  flood  that  childhood  conditions 
rendered  inevitable,  he  must  also  endure  our  lectures,  our 
criticisms,  and  our  moral  excoriation.  -s,^ 

But,  one  will  say,  he  could  have  overcome  his  spendthrift] 
tendencies;  some  people  do.  Quite  true:  some  people  do.  They 
are  lucky.  They  have  it  in  them  to  overcome  early  deficiencies  > 
by  exerting  great  effort,  and  they  are  capable  of  exerting  the  ' 
effort.  Some  of  us,  luckier  still,  can  overcome  them  with  but 
little  effort;  and  a  few,  the  luckiest,  haven't  the  deficiencies  to 
overcome.  It's  all  a  matter  of  luck.  The  least  lucky  are  those 
who  can't  overcome  them,  even  with  great  effort,  and  those 
who  haven't  the  ability  to  exert  the  effort.  ~^ 

But,  one  persists,  it  isn't  a  matter  simply  of  luck;  it  is  a 
matter  of  effort.  Very  well  then,  it's  a  matter  of  effort;  without  X 
exerting  the  effort  you  may  not  overcome  the  deficiency.  But 
whether  or  not  you  are  the  kind  of  person  who  has  it  in  himj 
to  exert  the  effort  is  a  matter  of  luck. 

All  this  is  well  known  to  psychoanalysts.  They  can  predict, 
from  minimal  cues  that  most  of  us  don't  notice,  whether  a 
person  is  going  to  turn  out  to  be  lucky  or  not.  "The  analyst," 
they  say,  "must  be  able  to  use  the  residue  of  the  patient's  un- 
conscious guilt  so  as  to  remove  the  symptom  or  character  trait 
that  creates  the  guilt.  The  guilt  must  not  only  be  present,  but 
available  for  use,  mobilizable.  If  it  is  used  up  (absorbed)  in 
criminal  activity,  or  in  an  excessive  amount  of  self-damaging 
tendencies,  then  it  cannot  be  used  for  therapeutic  purposes, 
and  the  prognosis  is  negative."  Not  all  philosophers  will  relish 
the  analyst's  wav  of  putting  the  matter,  but  at  least  as  a  physi- 
cian he  can  soon  detect  whether  the  patient  is  lucky  or  un- 
lucky— and  he  knows  that  whichever  it  is,  it  isn't  the  patient's 
fault.  The  patient's  conscious  volition  cannot  remedy  the 
deficiency.  Even  whether  he  will  co-operate  with  the  analyst 
is  really  out  of  the  patient's  hands:  if  he  continually  projects 

138    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

the  denying-mother  fantasy  on  the  analyst  and  unconsciously 
identifies  him  always  with  the  cruel,  harsh  forbidder  of  the 
nursery,  thus  frustrating  any  attempt  at  impersonal  observa- 
tion, the  sessions  are  useless;  yet  if  it  happens  that  way,  he 
can't  help  that  either.  That  fatal  projection  is  not  under  his 
control;  whether  it  occurs  or  not  depends  on  how  his  uncon- 
scious identifications  have  developed  since  his  infancy.  He  can 
try,  yes — but  the  ability  to  try  enough  for  the  therapy  to  have 
effect  is  also  beyond  his  control;  the  capacity  to  try  more  than 
just  so  much  is  either  there  or  it  isn't — and  either  way  "it's  in 
the  lap  of  the  gods." 

The  position,  then,  is  this:  if  we  can  overcome  the  effects  of 
early  environment,  the  ability  to  do  so  is  itself  a  product  of 
the  early  environment.  We  did  not  give  ourselves  this  ability; 
and  if  we  lack  it  we  cannot  be  blamed  for  not  having  it.  Some- 
times, to  be  sure,  moral  exhortation  brings  out  an  ability  that 
is  there  but  not  being  used,  and  in  this  lies  its  occasional  util- 
ity; but  very  often  its  use  is  pointless,  because  the  ability  is  not 
there.  The  only  thing  that  can  overcome  a  desire,  as  Spinoza 
said,  is  a  stronger  contrary  desire;  and  many  times  there 
simply  is  no  wherewithal  for  producing  a  stronger  contrary 
desire.  Those  of  us  who  do  have  the  wherewithal  are  lucky. 

There  is  one  possible  practical  advantage  in  remembering 
this.  It  may  prevent  us  (unless  we  are  compulsive  blamers) 
from  indulging  in  righteous  indignation  and  committing  the 
sin  of  spiritual  pride,  thanking  God  that  we  are  not  as  this 
publican  here.  And  it  will  protect  from  our  useless  moralizings 
those  who  are  least  equipped  by  nature  for  enduring  them. 
As  with  responsibility,  so  with  deserts.  Someone  commits  a 
crime  and  is  punished  by  the  state;  "he  deserved  it,"  we  say 
self-righteously — as  if  we  were  moral  and  he  immoral,  when 
in  fact  we  are  lucky  and  he  is  unlucky — forgetting  that  there, 
but  for  the  grace  of  God  and  a  fortunate  early  environment, 
go  we.  Or,  as  Clarence  Darrow  said  in  his  speech  for  the  de- 
fense in  the  Loeb-Leopold  case: 

I  do  not  believe  that  people  are  in  jail  because  they  deserve  to 
be.  ...  I  know  what  causes  the  emotional  life.  ...  I  know  it  is 
practically  left  out  of  some.  Without  it  they  cannot  act  with  the 
rest.  They  cannot  feel  the  moral  shocks  which  safeguard  others. 
Is  [this  man]  to  blame  that  his  machine  is  imperfect?  Who  is 
to  blame?  I  do  not  know.  I  have  never  in  my  life  been  interested 
so  much  in  fixing  blame  as  I  have  in  relieving  people  from 
blame.  I  am  not  wise  enough  to  fix  it.* 

*  Levin,  op.  cit.,  pp.  439-40,  469. 

What  Means  This  Freedom?      /    139 

I  want  to  make  it  quite  clear  that  I  have  not  been  arguing 
for  determinism.  Though  I  find  it  difficult  to  give  any  sense  to 
the  term  "indeterminism,"  because  I  do  not  know  what  it 
would  be  like  to  come  across  an  uncaused  event,  let  us  grant 
indeterminists  everything  they  want,  at  least  in  words — 
influences  that  suggest  but  do  not  constrain,  a  measure  of 
acausality  in  an  otherwise  rigidly  causal  order,  and  so  on — 
whatever  these  phrases  may  mean.  With  all  this  granted,  ex- 
actly the  same  situation  faces  the  indeterminist  and  the  deter- 
minist;  all  we  have  been  saying  would  still  hold  true.  "Are 
our  powers  innate  or  acquired?"  <^ 

Suppose  the  powers  are  declared  innate;  then  the  villain  may 
sensibly  ask  whether  he  is  responsible  for  what  he  was  bom 
with.  A  negative  reply  is  inevitable.Are  they  then  acquired? Then 
the  ability  to  acquire  them — ^was  that  innate?  or  acquired?  It  is 
innate?  Very  well  then.  .  .  .^ 

The  same  fact  remains — ^that  we  did  not  cause  our  characters, 
that  the  influences  that  made  us  what  we  are  are  influences 
over  which  we  had  no  control  and  of  whose  very  existence  we 
had  no  knowledge  at  the  time.  This  fact  remains  for  "deter- 
minism" and  "indeterminism"  alike.  And  it  is  this  fact  to 
which  I  would  appeal,  not  the  specific  tenets  of  traditional 
forms  of  "determinism,"  which  seem  to  me,  when  analyzed, 
empirically  empty. 

"But,"  it  may  be  asked,  "isn't  it  your  view  that  nothing 
ultimately  could  be  other  than  it  is?  And  isn't  this  determin- 
istic? And  isn't  it  deterministic  if  you  say  that  human  beings 
could  never  act  otherwise  than  they  do,  and  that  their  desires 
and  temperaments  could  not,  when  you  consider  their  ante- 
cedent conditions,  be  other  than  they  are?" 

I  reply  that  all  these  charges  rest  on  confusions. 

1.  To  say  that  nothing  could  be  other  than  it  is,  is,  taken 
literally,  nonsense;  and  if  taken  as  a  way  of  saying  something 
else,  misleading  and  confusing.  If  you  say,  "I  can't  do  it,"  this 
invites  the  question,  "No?  Not  even  if  you  want  to?"  "Can" 
and  "could"  are  power  words,  used  in  the  context  of  human 
action;  when  appBeH^o  nature  they  are  merely  anthropomor- 

*  This  section  of  Professor  riospers'  paper  was  not  read  In  Its  present  form 
at  the  conference. — Ed. 

"  W.  I.  Matson,  "The  Irrelevance  of  Free-wiU  to  Moral  Responsibility," 
Uind,  LXV  (October  1956),  p.  495. 

140    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

phic.  "Could"  has  no  application  to  natxire — unless,  of  course, 
it  is  uttered  in  a  theological  context:  one  might  say  that  God 
could  have  made  things  different.  But  with  regard  to  inani- 
mate nature  "could"  has  no  meaning.  Or  perhaps  it  is  in- 
tended to  mean  that  the  order  of  nature  is  in  some  sense 
necessary.  But  in  that  case  the  sense  of  "necessary"  must  be 
specified.  I  know  what  "necessary"  means  when  we  are  talk- 
ing about  propositions,  but  not  when  we  are  talking  about  the 
sequence  of  events  in  nature. 

2.  What  of  the  charge  that  we  could  never  have  acted 
otherwise  than  we  did?  This,  I  submit,  is  simply  not  true.  Here 
the  exponents  of  Hume-Mill-Schlick-Ayer  "soft  determinism" 
are  quite  right.  I  could  have  gone  to  the  opera  today  instead 
of  coming  here;  that  is,  if  certain  conditions  had  been  differ- 
ent, I  should  have  gone.  I  could  have  done  many  other  things 
instead  of  what  I  did,  if  some  condition  or  other  had  been 
different,  specifically  if  my  desire  had  been  different.  I  repeat 
that  "could"  is  a  power  word,  and  "I  could  have  done  this" 
means  approximately  "I  should  have  done  this  if  I  had  wanted 
to."  In  this  sense,  all  of  us  could  often  have  done  otherwise 
than  we  did.  I  would  not  want  to  say  that  I  should  have  done 
differently  even  if  all  the  conditions  leading  up  to  my  action 
had  been  the  same  (this  is  generally  not  what  we  mean  by 
"could"  anyway) ;  but  to  assert  that  I  could  have  is  empty,  for 
if  I  did  act  different  from  the  time  before,  we  would  auto- 
matically say  that  one  or  more  of  the  conditions  were  differ- 
ent, whether  we  had  independent  evidence  for  this  or  not, 
thus  rendering  the  assertion  immune  to  empirical  refutation. 
(Once  again,  the  vacuousness  of  "determinism.") 

3.  Well,  then,  could  we  ever  have,  not  acted,  but  desired 
otherwise  than  we  did  desire?  This  gets  us  once  again  to  the 
heart  of  the  matter  we  were  discussing  in  the  previous  section. 

/  Russell  said,  "We  can  do  as  we  please  but  we  can't  please  as 
we  please."  But  I  am  persuaded  that  even  this  statement  con- 

\  ceals  a  fatal  mistake.  Let  us  follow  the  same  analysis  through. 

j  "I  could  have  done  X"  means  "I  should  have  done  AT  if  I  had 

I  wanted  to."  "I  could  have  wanted  AT"  by  the  same  analysis 
would  mean  "I  should  have  wanted  X  if  I  had  wanted  to" — 
which  seems  to  make  no  sense  at  all.  (What  does  Russell 
want?  To  please  as  he  doesn't  please?) 
fl  1/  What  does  this  show?  It  shows,  I  think,  that  the  only 
'^•' '  meaningful  context  of  "can"  and  "could  have"  is  that  of 
action.  "Could  have  acted  differently"  makes  sense;  "could 

What  Means  This  Freedom?    /     141 

have  desired  differently,"  as  we  have  just  seen,  does  not.  Be- 
cause a  word  or  phrase  makes  good  sense  in  one  context,  let 
us  not  assume  that  it  does  so  in  another.  ^ 

I  conclude,  then,  with  the  following  suggestion:  that  we|/T| 
operate  on  two  levels  of  moral  discourse,  which  we  shouldn't' 
confuse;  one  (let's  call  it  the  upper  level)  is  that  of  actions;  ^l' 
the  other  (the  lower,  or  deeper,  level)  is  that  of  the  springs 
of  action.  Most  moral  talk  occurs  on  the  upper  level.  It  is 
on  this  level  that  the  Hume-Mill-Schlick-Ayer  analysis  of 
freedom  fully  applies.  As  we  have  just  seen,  "can"  and 
"could"  acquire  their  meaning  on  this  level;  so,  I  suspect,  does 
"freedom."  So  does  the  distinction  between  compulsive  and 
noncompulsive  behavior,  and  among  the  senses  of  "responsi- 
bility," discussed  in  the  first  section  of  this  paper,  according 
to  which  we  are  responsible  for  some  things  and  not  for 
others.  All  these  distinctions  are  perfectly  valid  on  this  level 
(or  in  this  dimension)  of  moral  discourse;  and  it  is,  after  all, 
the  usual  one — we  are  practical  beings  interested  in  changing 
the  course  of  human  behavior,  so  it  is  natural  enough  that  99 
per  cent  of  our  moral  talk  occurs  here. 

But  when  we  descend  to  what  I  have  called  the  lower  level 
of  moral  discourse,  as  we  occasionally  do  in  thoughtful  mo- 
ments when  there  is  no  immediate  need  for  action,  then  we 
must  admit  that  we  are  ultimately  the  kind  of  persons  we  are 
because  of  conditions  occurring  outside  us,  over  which  we  had 
no  control.  But  while  this  is  true,  we  should  beware  of  extend- 
ing the  moral  terminology  we  used  on  the  other  level  to  this 
one  also.  "Could"  and  "can,"  as  we  have  seen,  no  longer  have 
meaning  here.  "Right"  and  "wrong,"  which  apply  only  to 
actions,  have  no  meaning  here  either.  I  suspect  that  the  same 
is  true  of  "responsibility,"  for  now  that  we  have  recalled  often 
forgotten  facts  about  our  being  the  product  of  outside  forces, 
we  must  ask  in  all  seriousness  what  would  be  added  by  saying 
that  we  are  not  responsible  for  our  own  characters  and  tem- 
peraments. What  would  it  mean  even?  Has  it  a  significant 
opposite?  What  would  it  be  like  to  be  responsible  for  one's 
own  character?  What  possible  situation  is  describable  by  this 
phrase?  Instead  of  saying  that  it  is  false  that  we  are  responsi- 
ble for  our  own  characters,  I  should  prefer  to  say  that  the 
utterance  is  meaningless — meaningless  in  the  sense  that  it  de- 
scribes no  possible  situation,  though  it  seems  to  because  the 
word  "responsible"  is  the  same  one  we  used  on  the  upper 
level,  where  it  marks  a  real  distinction.  If  this  is  so,  the  result 
is  that  moral  terms — at  least  the  terms  "could  have"  and  "re- 

H2    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

sponsible" — simply  drop  out  on  the  lower  level.  What  re- 
mains, shorn  now  of  moral  terminology,  is  the  point  we  tried 
to  bring  out  in  Part  11:  whether  or  not  we  have  personality 
disturbances,  whether  or  not  we  have  the  ability  to  overcome 
deficiences  of  early  environment,  is  like  the  answer  to  the 
question  whether  or  not  we  shall  be  struck  down  by  a  dread 
disease:  "it's  all  a  matter  of  luck."  It  is  important  to  keep  this 
in  mind,  for  people  almost  always  forget  it,  with  consequences 
in  human  intolerance  and  unnecessary  suffering  that  are  in- 

PART    iV 


Chapter  1 

"Excusing  Conditions"   and 
Moral  Responsibility 

Elizabeth  Lane  Beardsley,  Lincoln  University 

Mr.  Hart  presents  an  extremely  interesting  justification  of 
the  use  of  "excusing  conditions"  as  removing  liability  to  legal 
penalties  on  the  ground  that  the  individual's  powers  of  pre- 
diction and  choice  are  thereby  maximized.  That  is,  the  in- 
dividual can  be  more  confident  of  being  able  to  predict  and 
control  the  possibility  that  legal  penalties  wUl  be  applied  to 
him  that  he  could  in  a  society  that  abolished  excusing  condi- 
tions. As  I  understand  Mr.  Hart's  thesis,  this  consideration 
is  deemed  sufficient  to  justify  the  use  of  excusing  conditions. 
But,  although  this  line  of  thought  seems  to  shed  considerable 
light  on  the  problem  why  we  approve  of  excusing  conditions, 
I  am  not  quite  convinced  that  this  can  be  the  entire  truth  of 
the  matter. 

It  seems  clear  that  if  I  lived  in  a  society  in  which  all  liability 
to  legal  penalties  was  of  the  "strict"  kind,  I  should  stand  in 
danger  of  suffering  such  penalties  without  having  really 
chosen  to  commit  the  act  that  brought  them  upon  me.  Here 
the  absence  of  excusing  conditions  is  a  necessary  condition  of 
my  standing  in  such  danger.  The  extent  of  the  danger,  how- 
ever, depends  also  on  the  likelihood  of  my  ever  being  in  one 
of  the  conditions  that  in  other  societies  would  be  regarded  as 
excusing.  And  some  of  these  conditions,  such  as  mental  dis- 
ease and  psychopathic  states  in  general,  and  also  ignorance, 
appear  capable,  in  principle  at  least,  of  being  reduced  in  inci- 
dence by  fairly  direct  action. 

If  we  now  perform  the  kind  of  mental  experiment  so  skill- 
fully carried  out  by  Mr.  Hart,  we  may  compare  the  situation 
in  two  different  hypothetical  societies,  51  and  52.  In  51,  all 
liability  to  legal  sanctions  is  of  the  strict  kind,  but  the  chances 
of  anyone's  suffering  such  sanctions  because  of  insanity  or 
neurosis  or  ignorance  are  small,  because  the  incidence  of  these 
conditions  is  low.  In  52,  on  the  other  hand,  insanity,  neurosis, 


146    /    Determmism  and  Freedom 

and  ignorance  are  much  more  prevalent,  but  here  they  consti- 
tute excusing  conditions.  (A  member  of  S2  stands  in  some 
slight  danger  of  suffering  legal  penalties  for  acts  committed 
when  in  these  conditions,  because  of  the  difficulties  of  estab- 
lishing the  presence  or  absence  of  the  conditions.)  In  both  51 
and  52,  the  danger  of  suffering  legal  penalties  for  acts  com- 
mitted because  of  mental  aberration  or  ignorance  is  small — 
let  us  assume  that  it  is  equally  small.  The  reduction  of  this 
danger  is  certainly  an  achievement  to  which  we  give  moral 
approval.  But  in  51  and  52  it  has  been  accomplished  by  differ- 
ent means,  and  it  seems  to  me  that  our  moral  appraisal  of 
the  methods  used  by  the  two  societies  is  not  the  same.  There 
is  an  element  of  moral  value  in  the  method  used  by  52  that 
is  absent  in  what  has  been  done  in  51.  This  seems  to  indicate 
that  something  more  than  the  power  to  maximize  the  indi- 
vidual's power  of  prediction  and  choice  underlies  our  ap- 
proval of  the  use  of  at  least  certain  ones  of  the  excusing 



The  thesis  set  forth  by  C.  A.  Campbell,^  and  Edwards,  that 
people  differ  with  regard  to  their  reflectiveness  concerning  the 
problem  of  relating  the  concepts  of  cause  and  moral  blame,  is 
helpful.  It  seems  to  me,  however,  that  Mr.  Edwards'  two-rung 
hierarchy  is  a  truncated  one,  and  that  it  needs  to  be  extended 
at  both  ends.  I  should  like  to  distinguish  four  degrees  or  levels 
of  reflectiveness  on  this  matter.  On  the  bottom  level  would  be 
persons  who  do  not  even  require  that  the  immediate  causes  of 
an  act  be  of  a  certain  kind,  i.e.,  that  the  act  be  voluntary  (free 
from  "coercion"),  before  the  agent  is  blamed  for  it.  I  do  not 
know  whether  any  such  persons  now  exist.  Perhaps  they  do 
not,  even  in  our  simplest  societies,  though  even  complex  so- 
cieties count  among  their  members  those  who  sometimes 
direct  judgments  of  blame  toward  agents  without  first  ascer- 
taining that  their  acts  were  voluntary.  In  any  case,  it  is 
certainly  plausible  to  assume  that  the  hxmian  race,  in  the 
evolution  of  its  moral  thinking,  once  passed  through  the  stage 
of  failing  to  recognize  the  moral  significance  of  the  distinction 
between  voluntary  and  nonvoluntary  acts.  To  point  this  out 
helps  us  remember  that,  however  little  reflective  Mr.  Edwards' 
"unreflective"  individuals  may  be,  it  would  be  possible  to  be 
even  less  so.  The  individuals  termed  "unreflective"  by  Mr. 

^Mlnd,  1951. 

"Excusing   Conditions"  and   Moral   Responsibility    /     147 

Edwards  occupy  the  second  level  in  my  proposed  hierarchy. 
For  these  persons  the  voluntariness  of  an  act  is  a  condition  of 
the  blameworthiness  of  the  agent.  This  means  that  they  ask 
certain  questions  regarding  the  immediate  causes  of  an  act; 
but  they  do  not  go  on  to  ask  about  the  causes  of  those  causes, 
nor  do  they  feel  impelled  to  bring  into  line  their  views  about 
the  scope  of  causality  in  general,  on  the  one  hand,  and  their 
beliefs  and  practices  regarding  moral  blame,  on  the  other. 

The  third  degree  of  reflectiveness  is  reached  by  Mr.  Ed- 
wards' "reflective"  persons.  These  persons,  as  I  interpret  their 
state  of  mind,  are  disturbed  by  several  considerations  that  do 
not  trouble  their  second-level  associates.  The  former  agree 
that  men  are  responsible  only  for  their  voluntary  acts,  but 
they  see  that  the  process  of  asking  for  the  causal  conditions  of 
a  given  act  can  be  carried  much  farther  than  is  required 
merely  to  establish  that  the  act  is  voluntary,  or  chosen  by  the 
agent;  and  they  do  not  see  any  reason  why  further  questions 
about  more  remote  causal  conditions  leading  to  the  choice  it- 
self should  be  ruled  out  in  an  appraisal  of  the  blameworthiness 
of  the  agent  for  the  act  chosen.  Moreover,  persons  at  this 
third  level  of  reflectiveness  are  aware  that  when  these  further 
questions  are  asked,  the  answers  will  very  soon  begin  to  in- 
clude references  to  factors  that  are  not  themselves  voluntary 
acts  of  the  agent,  and  for  which  the  agent  cannot  be  held 
"responsible"  from  any  point  of  view.  The  reaction  of  such 
persons  is  then  to  wonder  how  one  can  justify  regarding  any 
agent  as  blameworthy  for  an  act,  however  "voluntary"  it 
may  seem  after  a  limited  inquiry,  when  it  is  clear  that  a 
further  inquiry  would  disclose  causal  antecedents  of  the  act 
that  are  not  voluntary  acts.  It  appears  that  persons  at  this 
level  of  reflectiveness  make  one  of  two  drastic  moves.  They  ] 
may  feel  so  sure  that  the  notions  of  moral  blame  and  responsi- 
bility must  be  retained  that  they  abandon  the  thesis  that  all 
acts  of  choosing  have  causal  antecedents  (Campbell's  view), 
or  they  may  feel  so  sure  that  all  events,  .including  acts  of 
choosing,  are  caused  that  they  abandon  the  notions  of  moral 
blame  and  responsibility  (the  "hard  determinism"  of  Edwards' 

Many  moral  philosophers  of  a  determinist  bent  will  hope 
that  there  is  a  still  higher  level  of  reflectiveness  here,  to  which 
we  may  aspire.  I  think  that  there  is,  although  I  do  not  know 
how  to  describe  its  basic  characteristics  very  precisely.  But  I 
think  that  such  a  fourth  level  of  reflectiveness  can  perhaps  be 
reached  by  those  who  see  both  the  force  and  the  flaws  of  the 

148    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

arguments  that  seem  so  persuasive  at  the  third  level.  Such  per- 
sons would  see  that  the  fact  that  the  concepts  of  moral  re- 
sponsibility and  blame  have  limits  in  their  application  does 
not  mean  that  they  have  no  application.  That  they  do  have 
limits  is  demonstrated  by  the  considerations  advanced  at  the 
third  level.  Surely  these  show  that  there  are  indeed  some  ways 
of  feeling  about  other  people,  some  acts  of  total  rejection  of 
their  characters,  some  judgments  of  unlimited  condemnation 
for  their  acts,  that  are  wholly  unjustified,  no  matter  what 
monstrous  things  they  may  do.  Whatever  degree  of  condem- 
nation would  be  properly  reserved  for  a  first  cause  of  the 
doing  of  evil  is  certainly  to  be  withheld  from  men.  But  this 
is  not  to  say  that  no  condemnation  whatsoever  is  to  be  applied 
to  men.  Third-level  theorists  apparently  believe  that  the  de- 
cision not  to  blame  the  doers  of  acts  that  include  factors 
other  than  voluntary  acts  among  their  causal  antecedents  is 
reached  by  a  mere  extension  of  the  very  same  reasoning  that 
leads  us  not  to  blame  the  doers  of  nonvoluntary  acts;  but 
this  is  not  the  case.  The  two  premises,  (1)  that  we  are  not 
morally  responsible  for  acts  unless  they  are  voluntary,  and 
(2)  that  for  many  of  the  causes  of  our  acts  we  are  not  morally 
responsible,  since  these  are  not  themselves  voluntary  acts,  are 
not  sufficient  to  yield  the  conclusion  that  we  are  not  morally 
responsible  for  our  voluntary  acts.  But  those  who  wish  to 
avoid  this  conclusion,  without  renouncing  determinism  in  the 
process,  cannot  content  themselves  with  the  negative  task  of 
looking  for  loopholes  in  third-level  arguments.  Some  rather 
complicated  analyses  of  the  standards  that  actually  govern  our 
judgments  of  moral  praise  and  blame  will  be  needed,  along 
with  much  other  work.  The  construction  of  a  position  at  the 
fourth  level  of  reflectiveness  presents  a  difficult  challenge;  but 
the  stimulating  papers  of  Edwards  and  Hospers,  as  well  as 
the  spirited  discussion  that  followed,  have  provided  a  strong 
incentive  for  continuing  to  try  to  meet  that  challenge. 

Chapter  2 

P®l^@rmmiSffs   @rad   the  Jystafo^baiit/ 

Richard  Brandt,  Swarthmore  College 

People  often  say  that  someone's  act  was  "reprehensible"  or 
"morally  blameworthy"  or  "admirable"  or  "praiseworthy"; 
and  they  often  have  correspondingly  favorable  or  unfavor- 
able attitudes  toward  individuals  on  account  of  their  acts. 
Furthermore,  they  often  make  very  similar  remarks  about 
the  character  of  persons,  or  about  persons  on  account  of  their 
character;  and  again  they  sometimes  have  favorable  or  un- 
favorable attitudes  toward  persons  on  account  of  their  char- 
acter. We  might  sum  all  this  up  by  saying  that  people 
sometimes  engage  in  "blaming"  or  "praising."  (A  person  need 
not  say  anything  aloud  in  order  to  blame;  it  is  enough  if  he 
makes  a  mental  appraisal  and  takes  up  a  corresponding  atti- 

When  philosophers  say  that  human  beings  are  "morally 
responsible"  for  their  actions,  what  they  apparently  mean — 
although  one  perhaps  does  them  an  injustice  if  one  supposes 
anything  specific  is  meant — is  that  it  is  right  and  proper, 
sometimes,  to  engage  in  blaming  and  praising  as  defined  above. 
People  are  sometimes  fittingly,  deservedly,  praised  and 
blamed.  These  philosophers  are  not  just  making  a  causal 
statement,  such  as  "Human  volitions  are  sometimes  uncaused 
beginnings  of  causal  series,"  although  some  such  causal  propo- 
sition may  be  part  of  their  reason  for  saying  that  human 
beings  are  "morally  responsible."  (Sometimes,  too,  when 
philosophers  say  that  people  "act  freely"  they  are  not  assert- 
ing any  definite  causal  proposition,  but  rather,  simply,  that 
those  causal  propositions  are  true  about  human  behavior  that 
are  not  inconsistent  with  the  fittingness  of  blaming  and  prais- 
ing behavior.) 

A  great  many  distinguished  philosophers  have  held  that, 
if  determinism  is  a  correct  theory  of  all  human  psychological 
processes,  then  people  are  not  "morally  responsible"  for  their 
actions  or  character;  vis.,  blaming  and  praising  are  not  really 
fitting.  I  am  unconvinced  by  their  reasoning,  however,  and 


150    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

shall  now  explain  why  I  think  determinism  is  not  inconsistent 
with  moral  responsibility. 

It  is  convenient  to  begin  by  ascribing  to  these  philosophers, 
who  think  determinism  requires  serious  revision  of  ordinary 
moral  thinking,  a  rather  radical  thesis,  as  follows.  Tradition- 
ally, both  in  law  and  in  morals,  some  acts  have  been  regarded 
as  excusable  because  of  certain  specific  conditions,  and  other 
acts  have  been  regarded  as  inexcusable  in  view  of  the  absence 
of  such  specific  conditions.  Now,  the  radical  thesis  to  be  con- 
sidered is  this:  that  no  actions  are  ever  inexcusable,  that  all 
actions  are  excusable  in  view  of  their  having  been  caused. 

It  would  be  unfair  to  suggest  that  any  philosophers  advo- 
cate this  view  in  such  a  sweeping  and  unqualified  form.  So 
we  must  consider  how  this  thesis  should  be  complicated  if 
it  is  to  be  seriously  defended. 

First,  nobody  holds  that  society  has  no  need  for  a  system  of 
criminal  justice.  Moreover,  given  such  a  system  with  legal  re- 
quirements for  conduct  and  sanctions  in  case  of  infractions, 
there  must  be  some  actions  that  are  inexcusable  as  far  as  the 
law  is  concerned.  Everyone  is  agreed  that  misconduct  mvist  be 
subject  to  punishment,  as  a  condition  of  the  protection  of  the 
rights  of  all,  as  a  condition  of  a  well-ordered  society  where 
people  live  in  security.  It  is  also  agreed,  I  suppose,  that  any  ac- 
ceptable system  of  criminal  justice  will  excuse  antisocial  and 
forbidden  behavior  when  it  is  unintentional,  manifests  itself 
under  duress,  etc.,  and  that  it  wUl  not  excuse  such  behaviw 
when  it  is  deliberate,  uncompelled — in  short,  when  none  of 
the  standard  defenses  against  a  criminal  charge  apply.  This 
distinction  will  stand,  I  think,  irrespective  of  improvements 
in  the  system  of  criminal  justice  due  to  advances  in  psychol- 
ogy. So  far,  it  is  not  clear  that  the  acceptance  of  determinism 
indicates  any  modifications. 

Second,  the  determinist  must  assent  to  a  further  utility  of 
the  distinction  between  excusable  and  inexcusable  actions. 
It  would  be  agreed  today  that  up  to  a  point  it  is  correct  to 
view  moral  criticism  and  accusations  as  an  informal  extension 
of  the  system  of  criminal  justice.  Moral  criticism  is  a  mild 
form  of  punishment;  its  occurrence  is  a  sanction,  the  opera- 
tion of  which  can  warn  and  teach  just  as  do  criminal  codes 
and  criminal  proceedings.  Moral  criticism,  like  legal  sanc- 
tions, is  a  device  for  social  control  that  is  justified — at  any 
rate,  among  other  things — by  its  good  effects.  And,  as  in 
criminal  law,  it  is  a  good  thing  for  moral  criticism  to  recog- 
nize certain  antisocial  and  forbidden  behavior  as  excusable 

Determinism  and  the  Justifiability  of  Moral  Blame  /     151 

under  specific  conditions  similar  in  general  type  to  those 
under  which  a  person  is  not  liable  for  his  conduct  before  the 
law;  and  it  is  a  good  thing  for  moral  criticism  to  recognize 
misconduct  as  inexcusable  when  none  of  these  defenses  are 
available.  Again,  then,  it  is  not  clear  that  the  acceptance  of 
determinism  calls  for  modifications  in  the  exercise  of  moral 

If  the  determinist  finds  the  above  two  points  congenial,  it 
is  not  easy  to  see  how  he  will  avoid  going  still  farther.  We 
must  remember  that,  if  we  are  to  advocate  moral  criticism  as 
a  means  of  social  control  for  the  sake  of  the  general  welfare, 
we  must  specify  the  conditions  necessary  for  the  application 
of  moral  criticism.  If  moral  criticism  is  to  be  effective  it  must 
be  sincere,  and  if  it  is  to  be  sincere  the  critic  must  be  so  con- 
structed that  he  genuinely  disapproves  of  the  behavior  or 
character  trait  he  is  criticizing;  the  capacity  to  be  unfavorably 
excited  toward  persons  who  misbehave  must  be  built  in. 
Moreover,  if,  as  suggested,  what  is  wanted  is  a  system  of 
criticism  that  recognizes  a  distinction  between  excusable  and 
inexcusable  behavior,  it  appears  we  must  also  approve  of 
people's  recognizing  in  their  own  minds  and  consciences  a 
distinction  between  excusable  and  inexcusable  behavior. 

In  view  of  these  considerations  we  may  well  ask  philoso- 
phers who  think  determinism  has  sweeping  importance  for 
moral  philosophy:  What  exactly  is  it  that  the  truth  of  deter- 
minism renders  indefensible?  Are  there  some  practices — of 
moral  criticism,  etc.  —  that  the  consistent  determinist  must 
abandon,  and  if  so,  which?  In  what  sense  can  it  be  said  that, 
if  determinism  is  true,  no  actions  are  inexcusable? 

Perhaps  what  these  philosophers  are  arguing  is  this:  that 
whereas,  even  if  determinism  is  true,  praising  and  blaming 
can  be  justified  to  some  extent  by  the  above  utilitarian  appeal 
— so  far  the  distinction  between  the  excusable  and  the  in- 
excusable stands  up — nevertheless  no  further  justification  can 
be  given  for  these  practices.  And  it  may  be  thought,  in  view 
of  the  essential  point  or  significance  of  blaming  or  praising, 
some  further  justification  must  be  given,  if  these  practices 
are  to  be  accepted  as  fitting  and  proper.  I  agree  that  the  utili- 
tarian justification  is  not  enough,  but  I  am  unconvinced  that 
further  satisfactory  justification  is  impossible. 

Let  us  be  clear  what  is  considered  unfitting  by  these  phi- 
losophers: (1)  that  people  should  feel  disgust,  contempt, 
anger,  etc.,  toward  others  on  account  of  their  misbehavior 
(instead  of  excusing  them)   and  judge  correspondingly;  (2) 

152    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

that  they  should  approve  of  making  human  beings  suffer  for 
their  past  deeds,  when  other  things  are  equal  (as  they  perhaps 
seldom  are,  since,  for  example,  suffering  is  something  to  be 
avoided);  (3)  that  they  should  feel  remorseful  about  their 
own  past  deeds  and  not  excuse  themselves;  (4)  that  they 
should  take  pride  in  having  done  what  they  think  they  ought 
when  it  was  hard  to  do  so;  (5)  that  they  should  feel  admira- 
tion or  respect  for  others  because  they  did  what  they  ought 
when  few  would  have  been  able  to  do  so;  and  (6)  that  they 
should  approve  of  rewarding  people  for  special  achievements, 
when  they  did  what  they  ought  though  it  was  hard.  Perhaps 
we  are  unfairly  including  too  much.  But  what  ought  we  to 
exclude,  on  the  view  proposed? 

I  am  suggesting  that  the  philosophers  who  say  that  deter- 
minism implies  that  people  are  not  "morally  responsible"  are 
saying,  in  part,  that  the  above  activities,  although  they  can  be 
justified  to  some  extent  by  their  utility,  cannot,  in  view  of  the 
truth  of  determinism,  be  justified  in  other  respects,  and  that 
the  utilitarian  justification  is  not  enough. 

On  what  argument  do  these  philosophers  rely  in  order  to 
show  that,  considerations  of  utility  aside,  moral  criticism  and 
the  distinction  between  excusable  and  inexcusable  behavior 
are  unjustified  if  determinism  is  true?  Professor  Edwards  ar- 
gues, in  effect,  that  a  person  who  was  convinced  of  the  truth 
of  determinism  would  (if  he  were  disregarding  the  suggested 
utilities)  never  practice  the  various  forms  of  moral  criticism 
— or  approve  of  such  practice — if  he  were  an  impartial  person 
in  a  calm  frame  of  mind.  I  agree  with  him  that,  if  such  feel- 
ings would  not  occxir  if  one  were  calm  and  impartial,  they  are 
not  moral  feelings  when  they  do  occur,  and  that  then,  if  deter- 
minism is  true,  we  probably  ought  not  to  say  that  people  are 
blameworthy  or  admirable.  (I  have  some  qualms,  though, 
since  a  person  who  thought  of  the  utilities  might  still  approve 
of  such  critical  reactions.)  And  it  is  conceivable — although 
here  I  would  very  much  question  whether  in  fact  it  has  come 
about,  even  among  "reflective"  people — ^that  "blameworthy" 
and  "admirable"  should  be  so  used  that  a  necessary  condition 
for  their  applicability  to  an  act  or  character  would  be  that  the 
latter  be  undetermined. 

But  is  it  the  case  that  we  incline  to  stop  rendering — or  ap- 
proving the  rendering  of — ^moral  judgments  in  our  impersonal, 
nonviolent  moments  when  we  bring  to  mind  the  fact  that  all 
our  behavior  is  determined  and  disregard  the  question  of  util- 
ity? Are  we  inclined  to  be  less  provoked  with  ourselves  if  we 

Determinism  and  the  Justifiability  of  Moral  Blame  /     153 

notice,  for  instance,  how  we  have  given  way  to  an  envious 
thought  or  motive — that  we  have  been  expounding  a  shoddy 
argument  we  should  have  more  carefully  scrutinized — when 
we  think  of  the  way  all  this  was  determined?  Or  suppose  we 
hear  reliably  that  one  of  our  colleagues  bears  a  baseless 
grudge  against  a  student,  that  he  marks  the  student's  examina- 
tions low  for  no  reason,  that  he  refuses  to  Usten  to  his  ques- 
tions, that  he  refuses  to  give  him  a  recommendation  necessary 
for  medical  school.  Do  we,  when  we  reflect  on  the  determin- 
ism in  human  behavior,  find  our  indignation  melted — in  the 
way  it  is  melted  if  we  hear  that  his  attitude  was  based  on  some 
serious  misunderstanding,  or  even  that  he  has  been  under 
severe  emotional  strain  on  account  of  personal  difficulties?  Or 
does  our  admiration  for  someone  who  has  stood  up  for  a 
principle  at  the  risk  of  losing  his  job  evaporate  when  we  re- 
flect that  after  all,  given  his  make-up,  such  behavior  was  in 
the  cards — as  it  does  when  we  learn  that  our  man  knew  from 
the  start  that  his  job  was  safe?  It  is  not  obvious  that  "No"  is 
a  wrong  answer  to  these  questions. 

Further  debate  on  these  important  issues  is  doubtless  called 
for.  Possibly  it  can  be  shown  that  a  person  who  is  unimpressed 
by  the  plea  that  some  selfish  action  should  be  excused  be- 
cause it  was  determined  somehow  does  not  have  a  clear  view 
of  what  it  means  for  an  action  to  be  caused.  Or  again  it  might 
be  shown  that  there  is  no  formulable  principle  that  will  dis- 
tinguish conditions  under  which  we  count  misbehavior  as  ex- 
cusable —  e.g.,  ignorance  or  incapacity  —  from  conditions 
under  which  we  should  refuse  to  regard  misbehavior  as  excus- 
able. (If  we  do  not  have  such  a  principle  ready,  we  might  still 
decide  that  it  is  more  plausible  to  keep  on  looking  for  a  satis- 
factory formulation  than  to  give  up  a  distinction  between 
tJTses  of  cases  that  strike  us  as  very  different.) 

My  comments  may  be  summarized  as  follows.  First,  the 
distinction  between  excusable  and  inexcusable  misbehavior 
cannot  be  abandoned  altogether.  It  is  necessary  for  a  desirable 
system  of  criminal  law,  and  there  are  strong  reasons  of  utility 
for  its  preservation  in  overt  moral  criticism  and  perhaps  in  the 
private  moral  thinking  and  feelings  of  mankind,  irrespective 
of  the  truth  of  determinism.  Second,  it  remains  to  be  shown 
that  "reprehensible"  €«■  "morally  admirable"  entails  "was  un- 
determined" in  the  usage  of  reflective  people,  or  that  the  mak- 
ing of  judgments  of  blame  or  the  presence  of  corresponding 
feelings  is  causally  incompatible  with  believing  that  the  act  in 
question  was  determined,  even  in  a  calm  and  impersonal 

154    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

frame  of  mind.  And  therefore  the  judgments  and  feelings 
whereby  we  distinguish  between  excusable  and  inexcusable  be- 
havior are  not  undermined  as  being  unfitting,  even  if  the  truth 
of  determinism  is  granted.  My  conclusion  is  that  the  implica- 
tions of  determinism  for  ordinary  thinking  about  praise- 
worthiness  and  blameworthiness  are  by  no  means  as  serious 
as  some  philosophers  suggest. 

The  above  remarks  have  been  concerned  only  with  the  con- 
sistency of  judgments  of  praise  and  blame  with  determinism. 
But  they  bear  also  on  the  consistency  with  determinism  of 
judgments  of  duty  and  obligation  if,  as  I  believe  to  be  the  case, 
saying  that  a  certain  action  is  one's  duty  is  to  say  that  one  will 
be  morally  to  blame  if  one  fails  to  do  it  unless  a  valid  excuse 
can  be  offered. 

Chapter  3 

Determinism  and  Punishment 

Percy  W.  Bridgman,  Harvard  University 

At  the  present  time  there  seems  to  be  one  question  that 
looms  as  most  important  in  the  minds  of  many  who  are  con- 
cerned with  the  question  of  punishment.  This  question  is 
whether  punishment  is  an  acceptable  line  of  conduct  for 
society  in  the  context  provided  by  psychoanalysis,  which  pic- 
tures every  single  act  of  every  individual  as  fully  determined 
by  factors  over  which  he  has  no  control.  Thus  stated,  the 
problem  whether  to  punish  or  not  becomes  a  rather  special 
subcase  of  the  much  more  general  problem  of  reconciling  two 
patently  inconsistent  points  of  view,  that  of  determinism  and 
"free  will."  It  is  obviously  of  the  utmost  practical  importance 
that  we  find  a  workable  solution  of  this  problem.  Otherwise 
we  become  victims  of  a  cancerous  confusion  leading  to  vacil- 
lation, like  that  of  the  donkey  between  two  bales  of  hay. 

It  seems  to  me  that  we  have  to  recognize  clearly  that  there 
are  two  levels  of  operation.  There  is  the  level  of  daily  life  and 
social  interaction,  i.e.,  the  level  of  "free  will,"  and  there  is  the 
deterministic  level.  So  far  as  the  deterministic  level  has  con- 
crete reference  beyond  the  purely  verbal  it  is  the  level  of 
scientific  activity.  At  this  level,  so  far  as  present  achievement 
goes,  determinism  has  the  status  merely  of  a  program  to  direct 
inquiry,  a  program  applicable  to  the  overwhelming  majority 
of  the  phenomena  of  the  world  about  us,  including  biological 
phenomena.  It  is  a  simple  description  of  the  attitude  of  many 
scientists  to  say  that  they  can  see  nothing  on  the  present  hori- 
zon that  would  make  this  an  impossible  program,  and  that  in 
many  fields  they  regard  finding  methods  of  carrying  out  this 
program  as  the  most  promising  line  of  scientific  attack.  It  must 
be  emphasized,  however,  that  every  biologist,  and  particularly 
every  psychologist,  would  admit  that  at  present  we  are  fan- 
tastically far  from  being  able  to  carry  out  such  a  program. 

The  other  level  is  the  common-sense  level  of  everyday  life, 
the  level  of  "free  will."  On  this  level  we  have  to  devise  a 
practical  method  of  dealing  with  situations  in  which  we  can- 
not control  or  predict.  Such  situations  occur  predominantly  in 
dealing  with  organisms.  In  particular,  no  one  can  find  in  his 


156    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

own  consciousness  or  outside  it  factors  that  would  enable  him 
to  predict  his  own  future  behavior.  We  develop  a  language  to 
describe  this  situation,  in  which  our  inability  to  foresee  our 
own  future  and  that  of  our  fellows  is  reflected  in  the  concept 
of  "free  will,"  and  we  further  develop  a  whole  related  vocabu- 
lary for  situations  in  which  we  make  no  attempt  at  control  or 
prediction.  It  is  a  mere  statement  of  fact  that  there  are  situa- 
tions in  which  we  make  no  attempt  at  control  or  prediction, 
and  any  ultimate  possibility  of  such  control  is  disregarded. 
Whether  or  not  we  believe  that  we  might  at  some  time  in  the 
future  achieve  such  control  becomes,  in  this  context, 

There  is,  and  can  be,  no  sharp  dividing  line  between  the 
vocabulary  of  determinism  and  that  of  daily  life.  Use  of  the 
vocabulary  of  daily  life  is  an  art,  and  the  wisdom  of  all  ages 
is  necessary  to  use  it  effectively. 

It  seems  to  me  that  much  of  the  current  unwillingness  to 
use  the  instrument  of  punishment  under  conditions  that  would 
be  acceptable  to  enlightened  social  opinion  stems  from  a  doc- 
trinaire insistence  that  our  verbal  edifice  be  a  single  logically 
consistent  unit.  It  is  in  the  nature  of  things  impossible  to  erect 
a  single  consistent  verbal  structure,  logically  watertight  in  all 
respects.  To  insist  on  acting  as  if  we  could  is  in  the  first  place 
self-defeating — for  by  what  logic  can  the  man  who  argues  that 
punishment  is  unjustified  expect  his  argument  to  affect  the  ac- 
tions of  his  opponent,  when  both  his  argument  and  the  re- 
sponse to  it  were  already  rigidly  predetermined?  Pushed  still 
further,  the  insistence  that  punishment  is  unjustified  can  lead 
only  to  social  catastrophe.  At  present  the  only  technique  we 
have  for  dealing  with  our  fellows  is  to  act  as  if  they  were  the 
same  sort  of  creatures  as  we  ourselves.  We  disregard  deter- 
minism when  dealing  with  ourselves — we  have  to  disregard 
it,  within  reason,  in  our  everyday  contacts  with  others.  Too 
many  of  us  take  our  verbal  structures  with  a  deadly  serious- 
ness— a  certain  tough-mindedness  and  small  sense  of  humor 
might  provide  an  antidote. 

Chapter  4  ■ 

Responsibility  and  Avoidability 

Roderick  W.  Chisholm,  Brown  University 

Edwards  and  Hospers  hold  that  there  is  an  important  sense 
in  which  we  may  be  said  not  to  be  morally  responsible  for 
any  of  our  acts  or  choices.  I  propose  the  following  as  an 
explicit  formulation  of  their  reasoning: 

1.  If  a  choice  is  one  we  could  not  have  avoided  making, 
then  it  is  one  for  which  we  are  not  morally  responsi- 

2.  If  we  make  a  choice  under  conditions  such  that,  given 
those  conditions,  it  is  (causally  but  not  logically)  im- 
possible for  the  choice  not  to  be  made,  then  the 
choice  is  one  we  could  not  have  avoided  making, 

3.  Every  event  occvu"s  under  conditions  such  that,  given 
those  conditions,  it  is  (causally  but  not  logically) 
impossible  for  that  event  not  to  occur. 

4.  The  making  of  a  choice  is  the  occurrence  of  an  event. 

5.  We  are  not  morally  responsible  for  any  of  our 

If  we  wish  to  reject  the  conclusion  (5) — and  for  most  of  us 
(5)  is  difficult  to  accept — we  must  reject  at  least  one  of  the 

Premise  ( 1 ) ,  I  think,  may  be  interpreted  as  a  logical  truth. 
If  a  man  is  responsible  for  what  he  did,  then  we  may  say, 
"He  could  have  done  otherwise."  And  if  we  may  say,  "He 
couldn't  help  it,"  then  he  is  not  responsible  for  what  he  did. 

Many  philosophers  would  deny  (2),  substituting  a  weaker 
account  of  avoidability.  A  choice  is  avoidable,  they  might  say, 
provided  only  it  is  such  that,  //  the  agent  had  reflected  further, 
or  had  reflected  on  certain  things  on  which  in  fact  he  did  not 
reflect,  he  would  not  have  made  the  choice.  To  say  of  a  choice 
that  it  "could  not  have  been  avoided,"  in  accordance  with  this 


158    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

account,  would  be  to  say  that,  even  if  the  agent  had  reflected 
further,  on  anything  you  like,  he  would  all  the  same  have 
made  the  choice.  But  such  conditional  accounts  of  avoidability 
("An  act  or  choice  is  avoidable  provided  only  it  is  such  that, 
//  the  agent  were  to  do  so-and-so,  the  act  or  choice  would  not 
occur")  usually  have  this  serious  defect:  the  antecedent 
clause  ("if  the  agent  were  to  do  so-and-so")  refers  to  some 
act  or  choice,  or  to  the  failure  to  perform  some  act  or  to 
make  some  choice;  hence  we  may  ask,  concerning  the  occur- 
rence or  nonoccurrence  of  this  act  or  choice,  whether  or  not 
it  is  avoidable.  Thus  one  who  accepted  (5)  could  say  that,  if 
the  agent's  failure  to  reflect  further  was  itself  unavoidable,  his 
choice  was  also  unavoidable.  And  no  such  conditional  ac- 
count of  avoidability  seems  adequate  to  the  use  of  "avoid- 
able" and  "unavoidable"  in  questions  and  statements  such  as 

If  we  accept  a  conditional  account  of  avoidability,  we  may 
be  tempted  to  say,  of  course,  that  it  would  be  a  misuse  of 
"avoidable"  to  ask  whether  the  nonoccurrence  of  the  ante- 
cedent event  ("the  agent  does  so-and-so")  is  avoidable.  But 
the  philosopher  who  accepts  (5)  may  well  insist  that,  since 
the  antecedent  clause  refers  to  an  act  or  a  choice,  the  use  of 
"avoidable"  in  question  is  not  a  misuse. 

What,  then,  if  we  were  to  deny  (3)?  Suppose  that  some 
of  our  choices  do  not  satisfy  (3) — that  when  they  are  made 
they  are  not  made  under  any  conditions  such  that  it  is  (caus- 
ally) impossible  (though  logically  possible)  for  them  not  to 
be  made.  If  there  are  choices  of  this  sort,  then  they  are 
merely  fortuitous  or  capricious.  And  if  they  are  merely  for- 
tuitous or  capricious,  if  they  "just  happen,"  then,  I  think,  we 
may  say  with  Blanshard  that  we  are  not  morally  responsible 
for  them.  Hence  denying  (3)  is  not  the  way  to  avoid  (5). 

We  seem  confronted,  then,  with  a  dilemma:  either  our 
choices  have  sufficient  causal  conditions  or  they  do  not;  if 
they  do  have  sufficient  causal  conditions  they  are  not  avoid- 
able; if  they  do  not,  they  are  fortuitous  or  capricious;  and 
therefore,  since  our  choices  are  either  unavoidable  or  fortui- 
tous, we  are  not  morally  responsible  for  them. 

There  are  philosophers  who  believe  that  by  denying  the 
rather  strange-sounding  premise  (4)  we  can  escape  the  dilem- 
ma. Insisting  on  something  like  "the  primacy  of  practical  rea- 
son," they  would  say  that  since  we  are  certain  that  (5)  is  false 
we  must  construct  a  metaphysical  theory  about  the  self,  a 
theory  denying  (4)  and  enabling  us  to  reconcile  (3)  and  the 

Responsibility  and  Avoidability  /     159 

denial  of  (5).  I  say  "metaphysical"  because  it  seems  to  be 
necessary  for  the  theory  to  replace  (4)  by  sentences  using 
such  terms  as  "active  power,"  "the  autonomy  of  the  will," 
"prime  mover,"  or  "higher  levels  of  causality" — terms  desig- 
nating something  to  which  we  apparently  need  not  refer  when 
expressing  the  conclusions  of  physics  and  the  natural  sciences. 
But  I  believe  we  cannot  know  whether  such  theories  enable  us 
to  escape  our  dilemma.  For  it  seems  impossible  to  conceive 
what  the  relation  is  that,  according  to  these  theories,  holds 
between  the  "will,"  "self,"  "mover,"  or  "active  power,"  on  the 
one  hand,  and  the  bodily  events  this  power  is  supposed  to  con- 
trol, on  the  other — the  relation  between  the  "activities"  of 
the  self  and  the  events  described  by  physics. 

I  am  dissatisfied,  then,  with  what  philosophers  have  pro- 
posed as  alternatives  to  premises  (1)  through  (4)  above,  but 
since  I  feel  certain  that  (5)  is  false  I  also  feel  certain  that  at 
least  one  of  the  premises  is  false. 

Chapter  5 

Determinism,  Freedom,  and 

C.  J.  Ducasse,  Brown  University 

Several  speakers  at  this  conference  appeared  to  take  it  for 
granted  that  determinism  and  freedom  are  incompatible,  and 
hence  that  the  questions  in  need  of  being  answered  were  only, 
first,  whether,  or  how  far  and  where  in  particular,  determin- 
ism or  freedom  in  fact  obtains;  and  second,  what  bearing 
various  answers  to  the  first  question  would  have  on  practical 
issues  in  philosophy,  science,  law,  and  ethics. 

Underlying  this  conception  of  the  points  at  issue  is  a  tacit 
assumption  that  the  concepts  determinism,  freedom,  indeter- 
minism,  and  contingency  are  quite  clear,  or  at  least  clear 
enough  to  make  possible  definite  answers  to  the  questions 
mentioned.  I  believe  on  the  contrary  that  this  assumption  is 
largely  mistaken,  and  that  the  inconclusiveness  of  the  present 
discussions,  as  well  as  of  innumerable  other  discussions  of 
the  same  questions  in  the  past,  has  been  due  to  the  fact  that 
they  were  engaged  in  without  adequate  preliminary  analysis 
of  the  concepts  employed  in  them.  The  remarks  to  follow 
will  therefore  attempt  to  distinguish  among  several  of  the 
senses  in  which  the  key  terms  mentioned  are  often  used;  to 
clarify  each  of  those  senses;  and  then  to  indicate  what  does  or 
does  not  follow  as  regards  some  of  the  issues  in  discussions  of 
which  those  terms  are  commonly  employed. 

1.  Determinism  as  theoretically  universal  predictability.  In 
science,  and  also  in  certain  other  contexts,  determinism  is 
employed  to  mean  theoretically  universal  predictability;  that 
is,  it  is  used  to  signify  that,  on  the  basis  of  knowledge  of  (a) 
the  state  of  the  world  at  any  given  time  and  (b)  the  laws  ac- 
cording to  which  its  state  at  any  time  is  related  to  its  states 
at  other  times,  it  would  be  possible  to  infer  what  the  state  of 
the  world  was,  or  will  be,  at  any  earlier  or  later  time.  Lap- 
lace's famous  statement  formulates  a  determinism  so  con- 

An  intelligence  knowing,  at  a  given  instant  of  time,  all  forces 
acting  in  nature,  as  well  as  the  momentary  positions  of  all 


Determinism,  Freedom  and  Responsibility  /     161 

things  of  which  the  universe  consists,  would  be  able  to  compre- 
hend the  motions  of  the  largest  bodies  of  the  world  and  those 
of  the  smallest  atoms  in  one  single  formula,  provided  it  were 
sufficiently  powerful  to  subject  all  data  to  analysis.  To  it,  noth- 
ing would  be  uncertain,  both  future  and  past  would  be  present 
before  its  eyes.^ 

2.  Critique  of  Laplacian  determinism.  This  account  of  de- 
terminism, however,  is  open  to  fatal  criticism  on  several 

a.  For  one  thing,  it  assumes  that  the  physical  world  is  the 
whole  of  the  world;  and  this  leaves  out  of  account  mental 
events  in  general  and  volitions  in  particular,  unless  it  defines 
them  as  themselves  purely  physical  events — e.g.,  as  molecular 
events  in  the  tissues  of  the  brain.  But  so  to  define  them  is  not 
legitimate,  since  it  amounts  to  asserting  that  the  term  "mental 
events"  does  not  denote  by  means  of  it,  but  denotes  instead 
certain  quite  different  events — such  a  contention  being  as 
paradoxical  as  would  be  the  parallel  one  that  what  we  intend 
to  denote — i.e.,  to  point  at — when  using  the  word  "cabbages" 
is  not  cabbages  but,  say,  tigers.  Of  course,  it  might  conceiv- 
ably be  true  that  all  mental  events  are  dependent  on  bodily 
events  of  some  sort.  But  to  be  "dependent  on"  and  to  be 
"identically  the  same  as"  are  two  different  relations;  the  first, 
being  at  least  dyadic,  precludes  the  second,  since  it  is  mo- 
nadic. Hence  the  physical  world  is  not  the  whole  world. 

b.  But  further,  determinism  as  conceived  by  Laplace  as- 
sumes that  observation  would  yield  precise  knowledge  of  the 
state  of  the  physical  world  at  the  time;  and  this,  since  the  days 
of  Laplace,  has  been  disproved.  It  has  been  shown  that  to 
observe  both  the  position  and  the  velocity  of  a  particle  at  a 
given  time  is  not  simply  difficult  but  inherently  impossible, 
because  to  attempt  it  is  automatically  to  alter  one  or  the 

c.  Again,  Laplacian  determinism  asstunes  that  the  only 
forces  at  work  in  the  world  are  those  of  classical  mechanics. 
But  this  is  not  known  to  be  true,  and  it  is  dubious  in  particu- 
lar in  the  case  of  biological  processes,  and  still  more  so  in 
the  case  of  consciously  purposive  action,^ 

In  addition,  the  determinism  of  Laplace  ignores  the  possi- 
bility that  some  events  or  entities  are  wholly  or  in  part  sui 

^Theorte  analytique  des  probabilit6s  (3rd  ed.;  Paris.  1820). 

2  On  this  point  interesting  material  is  to  be  foimd  in  an  address  by  H.  S. 
Jennings  on  "Some  Implications  of  Emergent  Evolution,"  Science,  January 
14,  1927;  in  E.  S.  Russell's  The  Directiveness  of  Organic  Activities  (1946); 
and  in  recent  writings  of  a  number  of  other  biologists. 

162    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

generis — a  possibility  that  would  make  the  notion  of  laws 
governing  their  occurrence  incongruous,  since  laws  obtain 
with  regard  to  events  or  entities  only  in  so  far  as  these  are 
instances  of  a  kind,  but  not  in  so  far  as  they  are  individually 
unique.  Indeed  no  event  or  entity  is  completely  similar  to  any 
other;  no  matter  how  great  may  be  the  similarity  of  one  to 
another,  its  being  "other"  means  at  least  that  its  spatial  and/ or 
temporal  relations  are  somewhat  different;  and  this  entails  that 
an  individual  residuum,  unpredictable  because  unprecedented, 
is  an  ultimate  constituent  of  every  occurring  event  or  existent 

d.  The  upshot,  then,  is  that  determinism  in  the  sense  of 
theoretically  universal  predictability,  whether  of  all  physical 
events  only,  or  of  events  of  other  kinds,  too — for  instance, 
of  mental  events  in  general  and  of  volitions  or  decisions  in 
particular — is  not  only  not  known  to  be  true,  but  much  rather 
is  known  to  be  false.  Hence  the  status  of  determinism  in  the 
sense  of  theoretically  universal  predictability  is  only  that  of  a 
pious  but  bigoted  article  of  scientistic  faith. 

3.  Freedom  and  determinism  conceived  as  theoretically 
universal  predictability.  What,  now,  is  entailed  as  regards  free- 
dom by  the  indefensibility  of  determinism  conceived  as 
theoretically  universal  predictability?  Consider  a  given  event 
— say,  the  choice  a  given  person  makes  on  a  given  occasion 
among  the  alternatives  open  to  his  choice.  Obviously,  the  fact 
that  the  choice  he  makes  was  not  certainly  predictable — even 
perhaps  by  himself — does  not  entail  that  it  was  "free"  in  any 
sense  other  than  "free  from  the  possibility  of  being  pre- 
dicted"! In  particular,  it  does  not  entail  that  the  choice  he 
made  was  uncaused  in  any  sense  of  "uncaused"  other  than 
that  of  "unpredictable";  nor  does  it  entail  that  the  choice  was 
made  "freely"  rather  than  perhaps  under  duress,  threat,  or 

4.  Determinism  conceived  as  fatalism.  Certain  events,  e.g., 
eclipses,  tides,  earthquakes,  volcanic  eruptions,  etc.,  are  be- 
yond present  or  prospective  control  by  man's  will.  Others, 
such  as  the  movements  of  his  limbs,  and  also  many  effects 
that  these  cause  directly  or  indirectly  under  specifiable  condi- 
tions, are  within  man's  control  when  those  conditions  obtain. 
Fatalism,  however,  in  effect  contends  that  even  under  those 
conditions  man's  volitions  are  not  inherently  efficacious  to 
their  intent,  but  that  their  efficacy  or  inefficacy  is  preordained, 
permitted,  or  perhaps  implemented,  as  man's  clumsiness  or 
resourcefulness  may  render  necessary,  by  some  mysterious 

Determinism,  Freedom  and  Responsibility  /    163 

purposeful  agency  called  Fate,  the  Gods,  or  Destiny;  and  that, 
until  its  decrees  are  fulfilled,  men — other  than  perhaps  cer- 
tain prophets — do  not  and  cannot  know  what  "Fate"  had 

No  evidence,  however,  that  would  tend  to  show  fatalism  to 
be  true  is  available,  for  when  the  events  man  attempts  to 
cause  is  of  a  kind  he  is  capable  of  causing  at  will  under  cir- 
cumstances of  certain  kinds  known  to  him,  his  failure  to  cause 
it  in  a  given  case  is  always  explicable  as  resulting  simply  from 
his  not  having  known  that  the  circumstances  then  existing  did 
in  fact  differ  in  some  essential  respect  from  those  under  which 
his  action  would  have  been  efficacious  to  its  intent.  Fatalism 
thus  arises  only  out  of  man's  naive  tendency  to  assume,  ani- 
mistically,  that  causes  which  thwart  or  unexpectedly  promote 
his  purposes  must  themselves  be  purposive! 

5.  Determinism  as  universality  of  causation.  The  thesis  of 
determinism  conceived  as  universality  of  causation  is  that 
every  event  that  occurs  has  some  cause  and  has  some  effect. 
Whether  this  thesis  is  true  or  false,  and  what  is  truth  or 
falsity  entails  as  to  man's  freedom  depends  on  the  nature  of 
the  causality  relation. 

a.  Hvmie  offers  two  definitions  of  causality — one  objective 
and  the  other  in  part  subjective.  According  to  both  our  judg- 
ments that  certain  sequences  of  events  are  causal  sequences 
mean  that  in  our  experience  those  sequences  have  been 
constant,  i.e.,  regular.  Hume  insists,  however,  both  after  and 
before  stating  his  two  definitions,  that  both  of  them  are 
"drawn  from  circumstances  foreign  to  the  cause  .  .  .  from 
something  extraneous  and  foreign  to  it,"  But  although  he 
acknowledges  that  this  is  inconvenient,  he  declares  that  it 
cannot  be  remedied. 

If,  however,  as  some  writers  since  Hume  have  done,  one 
takes  experienced  regularity  of  sequence  to  be  all  that  caus- 
ality consists  in,  then  universality  of  causation  would  mean 
that  every  event  of  kind  E  we  have  experienced  was  in  our 
experience  preceded  by  an  event  of  kind  C  and  followed  by 
one  of  kind  F.  And  this,  of  course,  has  not  in  fact  been  the 
case.  Moreover,  even  if  it  had  been  the  case,  it  would  entail 
nothing  about  events  of  a  kind  that  we  have  experienced  no 
instances  of;  nor  even  about  instances  we  have  not  experi- 
enced, of  a  kind  that  we  have  experienced  some  (other) 
instances  of. 

Anyway,  the  definition  of  causality  simply  as  empirical 
regularity  of  sequence  would,  as  Thomas  Reid  and  others 

164     /  Detcrminisin  and  Freedom 

have  pointed  out,  require  us  to  pronounce  causal  certain  se- 
quences in  our  experience  that  are  regular,  but  that  we  con- 
fidently deny  to  be  causal.  On  the  other  hand,  we  sometimes 
pronounce  a  sequence  causal  without  waiting  to  observe 
whether  or  not  it  is  constant.  That  is,  we  pronounce  it  causal 
on  grounds  other  than  constancy,  which,  according  to  Hume's 
definition,  alone  constitutes  causaUty. 

Thus  the  regularity  of  a  sequence  never  in  itself  answers, 
but  on  the  contrary  always  raises,  the  question  whether  the 
sequence  is  a  causal  one.  That  a  given  sequence  is  causal  en- 
tails that  repetition  of  its  first  term  and  of  its  circumstances 
will  be  regularly  followed  by  repetition  of  its  second  term; 
but  regularity  of  a  sequence  does  not  entail,  but  only  sug- 
gests, that  it  is  perhaps  a  causal  one.  To  decide  whether  or 
not  it  is  indeed  causal,  we  need  have  available,  and  in  fact 
use,  a  different  definition  of  causality. 

b.  Causality  is  the  relation  that  obtains  between  the  three 
factors  of  a  perfect  experiment;  i.e.,  between  a  given  state  of 
affairs  S  and  only  two  changes  (whether  simple  or  complex) 
in  it — one  a  change  C  at  a  time  Tl,  and  the  other  a  change  E 
at  an  immediately  sequent  time  T2.  If  this  relation  obtains 
among  S,  C,  and  E,  then  C  is,  by  definition,  the  proximate 
cause  of  E  under  the  circumstances  S.  The  causality  relation 
is  thus  not  dyadic  only,  but  irreducibly  triadic:  the  circum- 
stances S  cannot  be  regarded  as  a  part  of  the  cause  C,  be- 
cause C  consists  of  a  change  occurring  in  S. 

c.  That  change  C  in  5  was  the  proximate  cause  of  change 
£  in  5  does  not  presuppose  that  S,  C,  and  E  ever  occurred 
before  or  ever  will  occur  again,  but  only  that  C  and  E  were 
the  only  two  changes  in  S;  but  it  entails  that,  should  S,  and  C 
in  S,  ever  have  occurred  before  or  ever  occur  again,  then  E 
in  S  did,  or  will,  follow  in  every  such  case.  For  in  the  defini- 
tion of  etiological  sufficiency  of  C  in  5  to  E  in  5,  i.e.,  of  caus- 
ation of  the  latter  by  the  former,  no  particular  date  is 
specified,  but  only  posteriority  of  the  time  of  E  to  the  time  of 
C  Moreover,  what  occurs  in  S  upon  occurrence  of  C  in  S  is 
an  intrinsic  element  of  the  nature  of  S;  hence  to  suppose  that 
S  and  that  C  in  5  recur,  but  that  £  in  5  docs  not  then  recur, 
is  to  suppose  contradictorily  that  in  the  second  case  the  state 
of  affairs  in  question  is,  to  that  extent  at  least,  different  from 

The  fact  that  causality  is  defined  in  terms  of  a  single  case  of 
sequence  (of  the  type  specified  above)  entails  that  causal  laws 
are  causal  not  because  they  are  laws   (since  some  laws,  to 

Determinism,  Freedom  and  Responsibility  /     165 

wit,  some  empirical  regularities,  are  not  causal)  but  because 
they  are  generalizations  from  cases  each  of  which  was  in  its 
own  individual  right  a  case  of  causation;  if  two  or  more  se- 
quences of  the  type  specified  resemble  one  another  in  that, 
and  only  in  that,  in  each  of  them  the  state  of  affairs  is  of  a 
certain  kind  S,  the  cause  of  a  certain  kind  C,  and  the  effect 
of  a  certain  kind  E,  then  the  "method  of  single  agreement," 
employed  as  a  method  of  generalization  by  abstraction,  war- 
rants the  generalization  that  in  any  state  of  affairs  of  kind  S, 
an  only  change  of  kind  C  immediately  causes  a  single  change 
of  kind  E. 

d.  The  foregoing  analysis  of  causality  makes  evident  that 
the  canon  of  the  so-called  "method  of  single  difference"  is  a 
description  of  the  causality  relation  itself,  not  of  a  relation 
other  than  causality,  constituting  only  a  sign  of  the  presence 
of  causality.  That  is,  the  "method  of  single  difference"  is  a 
method  only  in  the  strained  sense  in  which  the  description  or 
photograph  of  a  person  can  be  said  to  be  a  method  by  which 
to  identify  him  if  one  happens  to  meet  him.  Causality  is,  and 
is  nothing  but,  the  relation  between  S,  C,  and  E  described  in 
what  precedes.  It  constitutes  etiological  sufficiency  of  C  in  5 
to  E  in  S,  and  conversely,  etiological  necessitation  of  £  in  5 
by  C  in  5. 

e.  From  this  analysis  of  causality  it  follows  analytically 
that  every  event  has  a  cause  and  an  effect.  For,  given  any  state 
of  affairs  S  and  any  change  E  that  is  at  its  time  the  only 
change  in  S,  there  is  always  some  immediately  anterior  change 
in  S  that  qualifies  as  cause  of  £  in  5,  i.e.,  that  is  the  only 
change  in  S  at  its  time.  This  follows  from  the  fact  that  without 
some  change  there  is  no  time;  and  hence  that  to  suppose 
either  that  S  endured  or  that  S  changed  prior  to  E  is  to  sup- 
pose that  some  sort  of  "clock"  was  "ticking"  then.  And  should 
no  other  change  than  the  "ticking"  of  that  "clock"  have  oc- 
curred in  S  prior  to  E,  then  the  "ticking"  itself  would  qualify 
as  cause  of  E  under  the  definition. 

For  a  corresponding  reason  any  change  C  in  any  S  that  is 
the  only  change  in  S  at  its  time  causes  some  effect  E  in  S. 
Also,  the  specification  that  C  and  E  be  the  only  two  changes 
in  S  makes  it  superfluous  to  specify  that  C  and  E  are  con- 
tiguous in  time.  Their  contiguity  is  entailed  by  the  specifica- 
tion that  they  are  the  only  two  changes  in  S,  since,  if  time 
elapsed,  i.e.,  if  any  "clock"  were  "ticking,"  between  C  and  E, 
its  "ticks"  would  constitute  changes  in  S  additional  to  C  and 

166    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

/.  To  these  remarks  it  should  be  added  that  in  the  case  of 
causality  as  in  that  of  sincerity  or  divinity  or  gravitation,  etc., 
to  define  its  nature  is  one  task;  and  to  decide  whether  some- 
thing concrete — in  the  case  of  causality,  a  concrete  relation 
that  we  observe — is  really  an  instance  of  what  the  definition 
specifies  is  quite  another  task  and  one  that,  theoretically,  is 
never  performed  with  complete  certainty.  The  acceptability  or 
nonacceptabUity  of  the  decision  in  a  given  case  turns  on 
pragmatic  considerations,  just  as  the  answers  to  the  question 
whether  the  weight  of  a  given  book  is  exactly  the  same  as,  or 
is  a  trifle  more  or  a  trifle  less  than,  that  of  the  standard  pound 
— i.e.,  of  the  piece  of  metal  whose  weight  is  1  lb.  by  defini- 
tion— turns  on  the  purpose  that  governs  at  the  time.  If  one's 
purpose  is  to  maU  the  book,  then  the  scale  at  the  post  oflBce, 
and  the  clerk's  reading  of  what  it  marks,  are  authoritative. 

On  the  other  hand,  if  in  the  attempt  to  identify  empirically 
instances  of  what  a  definition  defines,  all  pragmatic  concerns 
are  put  aside,  then  one  automatically  rules  out  all  possibility 
of  success;  for  some  pragmatic  concern  is  the  only  thing  that 
gives  any  empirical  meaning  to  the  question  whether  a  pro- 
posed operation  of  identification  and  a  proposed  criterion  of 
the  success  of  the  operation  are  absurd  or  on  the  contrary 

.'  g.  The  conclusion,  then,  of  the  present  section  is  that  de- 
terminism, in  the  sense  that  every  event  has  some  cause  and 
some  effect,  is  analytically  true.  This,  however,  does  not  at 
all  entail  that  every  event  is  completely  and  certainly  pre- 
dictable even  theoretically,  i.e.,  even  on  the  supposition  of 
exact  and  exhaustive  knowledge  of  the  past  history  of  the 
universe;  for  complete  and  certain  prediction  would  be  pos- 
sible only  on  the  basis  of  strict  sameness  of  present  and  past 
data,  whereas  what  we  actually  get  is  only  similarity  in  vary- 
ing degrees.  At  all  times  in  the  history  of  the  world,  an 
element  of  novelty,  whether  great  or  small,  is  present  and 
accounts  for  what  has  been  called  the  emergence  of  such 
novelties  as  "life"  and  "mind";  which,  because  novel,  i.e., 
unprecedented,  were  inherently  unpredictable. 

To  designate  the  sense  of  "determinism"  considered  in  this 
section,  which  entails  that  universality  of  causation  is  an- 
alytically true  and  yet  which  has  room  for  the  occurrence  of 
novel  and  therefore  unpredictable  "emergents,"  we  may  adopt 
the  name  by  which  the  late  biologist  H.  S.  Jennings  referred 
to  his  own  conception  of  determinism,  to  wit,  "radically 
experimental  determinism.'^,, 

Determinism,  Freedom  and  Responsibility  /     167 

6.  Freedom.  Freedom  is  more  often  conceived  negatively, 
i.e.,  in  terms  of  indeterminism  or  of  exception  to  determin- 
ism, than  in  terms  of  a  positive  analysis.  The  same  is  true  of 
the  terms  chance  and  contingency. 

a.  What  has  been  said  up  to  this  point  will  have  made  clear 
that  to  say  of  a  given  event — whether  physical  or  mental — 
that  it  was  "free,"  or  more  or  less  synonj^nously,  that  it  was 
"contingent"  or  "a  matter  of  chance,"  may  mean  different 
things.  For  example,  it  may  mean  (1)  that  the  event  was 
practically  unpredictable,  i.e.,  unpredictable  on  the  basis  of 
the  data  we  had  or  could  get  at  the  time;  or  (2)  that  it  was 
unpredictable  even  theoretically,  for  one  or  another  of  the 
reasons  mentioned  in  our  critique  of  Laplace-type  determin- 
ism; or  (3)  that  it  had  no  cause;  or  (4)  that  it  was  not 
logically  necessary,  i.e.,  that  supposition  of  the  event's  non- 
occurrence, or  of  its  having  been  more  or  less  different  from 
what  it  was,  implies  no  contradiction.  And  of  course,  so  long 
as  these  diverse  meanings  of  the  term  are  not  distinguished 
in  discussions  of  "freedom,"  no  possibility  exists  of  really 
establishing  anything. 

Anyway,  none  of  these  four  senses  seem  to  correspond  to 
the  meaning  "free"  is  intended  to  have  in  the  instances  people 
commonly  offer  when  asked  to  give  examples  of  the  exercise 
of  that  "free  wUl"  they  believe  they  have;  for  they  usually 
offer  illustrations  such  as  that,  at  the  moment,  they  are  free 
to  raise  their  arm,  or  not,  as  they  will;  or  that,  when  offered  a 
choice  of,  say,  apple  pie  or  cherry  pie,  they  are  free  to  choose 
the  one  they  prefer.  An  analysis  of  the  meaning  of  "freedom" 
as  used  on  these  and  similar  occasions  is  what  I  now  submit. 

b.  That  a  person  P,  under  circumstances  K,  "can,"  or 
synonymously  "is  free  to,"  do  A  or  not  to  do  it  means  that 
volition  (or,  pace  Professor  Ryle,  "decision")  by  P  io  do  A 
or  not  do  A,  would,  in  those  circumstances,  be  sufficient  to 
cause  A  to  occur  or  not  to  occur.  And  if  it  should  be  objected 
that  this  is  only  freedom  to  act,  but  not  freedom  to  will,  then 
the  reply  is  that  that  analysis  applies  whether  ^4  is  a  bodily 
act  or  itself  an  act  of  will;  that  is,  it  applies  irrespective  of 
whether  P's  present  decision  is,  say,  to  raise  his  arm,  or 
whether  his  present  decision  is,  perhaps,  to  decide  tomorrow 
whether  to  buy  a  house  or  rent  one.  , 

c.  That  under  the  circumstances  that  obtained  P  was,  in 
the  sense  just  stated,  free  to  do  or  not  do  A  does  not  presup- 
pose that  his  decision  had  no  motive  or  other  cause;  nor  does 
the  fact  that  neither  he  nor  anyone  else  could  have  on  that 

168    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

occasion  predicted  what  his  decision  would  be  constitute  any 
evidence  that  it  had  no  cause. 

d.  Nor  does  the  fact  that  his  decision,  like  any  other  event, 
had  some  cause — causation,  as  defined  in  Section  5b,  is  uni- 
versal— mean  that  his  decision  was  not  free  but  compelled; 
for  a  decision  one  is  caused  to  make  is  not  describable  as 
"compelled"  unless  it  is  a  decision  to  do  something  to  which 
one  is  averse,  even  if  less  averse  than  to  the  alternatives  then 
open  to  choice.  The  decision  to  hand  over  one's  money  to  the 
holdup  man  who  confronts  one  with  the  choice  "Your  money 
or  your  life"  is  not  made  freely  but  under  compulsion; 
whereas  the  decision  to  choose,  say,  apple  pie  rather  than 
cherry  pie  in  the  restaurant  is — assuming  that  one  likes  apple 
pie — an  example  of  what  is  called  a  free  decision. 
,-  Thus  the  assumption  that  tacitly  underlies  most  discussions 
of  "free  will"  and  determinism — the  assumption,  namely,  of 
.  incompatibility  between,  on  the  one  hand,  determinism  in 
'  the  sense  of  universality  of  causation  and,  on  the  other,  free- 
dom in  the  sense  in  which  man  certainly  does  have  freedom 
in  many  cases — is  an  altogether  erroneous  assumption.  It 
arises  from  failure  to  analyze  the  meaning  that  the  terms  in 
question  have  in  the  specific  contexts  in  which  they  are  em- 

7.  Determinism  and  moral  responsibility.  The  final  ques- 
tion to  consider  is  what  determinism,  in  the  sense  that  every 
event  has  some  cause  and  some  effect,  entails  concerning 
moral  responsibility  or  lack  of  it. 

a.  It  is  essential  here  to  distinguish  between  moral  responsi- 
bility and  the  legal  responsibility  that  in  practice  may  or  may 
not  go  with  it.  Also,  to  distinguish  between  either  moral  or 
legal  responsibility  and  merely  etiological  responsibility,  which 
consists  simply  in  the  fact  that  our  acts,  besides  the  effects 
they  aim  at,  have  many  others  of  which  we  are  not  aware, 
and  which  may  or  may  not  harmonize  with  our  intention. 

b.  That  a  person  P  is  now  morally  responsible  for  his  vol- 
untary acts — or  was  not  so  but  can  now  be  made  morally 
responsible  for  his  future  ones — means  simply  that  to  praise 
or  blame  him  or  otherwise  reward  or  punish  him  for  some 
thing  he  now  does  or  did  will  tend  to  cause  him  to  act,  or 
tend  to  inhibit  him  from  acting,  in  a  similar  manner  on  simi- 
lar future  occasions. 

c.  Hence,  that  a  person  P  is  not  now  morally  responsible 
for  what  he  voluntarily  does  or  did  means  that  praise  or 
blame,  or  other  forms  of  reward  or  pxmishment,  would  have 

Determinism,  Freedom  and  Responsibility  /     169 

no  such  effect  on  him.  In  others  words,  it  means  that  he  is 
not  now  capable  of  moral  education,  and  hence  that  what  he 
needs  is  psychiatric  treatment.  In  such  a  case  to  inflict  punish- 
ment for  a  morally  wrong  act  is  either  simply  stupid  or 
sadistic  or  both. 

d.  This  analysis  of  what  constitutes  "moral"  responsibility 
entails  that  such  responsibility  not  only  is  not  incompatible 
with  determinism,  but  on  the  contrary  presupposes  determin- 
ism. In  other  words,  that  an  agent  is  morally  responsible  pre- 
supposes that  an  awareness  on  his  part  that  something  he 
contemplates  doing  would  be  morally  wrong  or,  as  the  case 
may  be,  morally  right  (his  notion  of  what  constitutes  moral 
lightness  or  wrongness  is  irrelevant  here)  will,  other  motives 
being  equal,  cause  him  to  refrain  from  acting,  or  on  the  con- 
trary cause  him  to  act.  Without  such  causation  there  is  no 
moral  responsibility. 

©r  6 

Some  Hefiecfaons  en  "The  Case 
for  Determinism" 

Carl  G.  Hempel,  PriBceton  University 

1.  On  defining  determinism.  There  appears  to  be  a  dis- 
crepancy between  two  characterizations  of  determinism  that 
Professor  Blanshard  offers  at  the  beginning  of  his  admirably 
lucid  and  stimulating  paper.  In  the  third  paragraph  determin- 
ism is  defined  as  the  view  that  every  event  A  has  at  least  one 
temporally  later  necessary  consequent  B.  According  to  this 
view,  then,  the  cause  ^  is  a  sufficient  condition  of  the  effect  B; 
and  determinism  asserts  that  every  event  causes  some  (later) 
event.  But  clearly  this  assertion  is  by  no  means  equivalent  to 
the  thesis  that  every  event  is  caused  by  some  (earlier)  event, 
or  briefly  that  "ail  events  are  caused" — a.  formulation  by 
which  Mr.  Blanshard  characterizes  determinism  in  the  second 
paragraph  of  his  essay. 

Evidently  it  is  the  latter  assertion  that  gives  significance  to 
the  problem  of  free  choice,  the  central  topic  in  Mr.  Blan- 
shard's  discussion.  For  the  question  at  issue  is  whether  all 
events,  including  human  acts  of  choice,  are  caused  by  ante- 
cedent events — not  whether  they  in  turn  have  certain  neces- 
sary consequents.  And  indeed  a  deterministic  thesis  to  the 
effect  that  every  event  causes  some  later  events  would  be 
quite  compatible  with  the  "uncaused"  occurrence  of  various 
phenomena,  such  as,  perhaps,  the  spontaneous  creation  of 
(hydrogen  atoms  envisaged  by  some  contemporary  cosmolo- 
\  gists.  Mr.  Blanshard's  thesis  of  determinism  will  therefore  be 
construed  here  as  asserting  that  for  every  event  B  there  exists 
'an  antecedent  event  A  that  is  a  sufficient  condition  for  the 
ipccurrence  of  B. 

Mr.  Blanshard  uses  the  phrase  "given  A,  B  must  occur" 
as  a  general  characterization  of  the  relation  that  obtains  be- 
tween an  event  A  and  a  later  event  B  ii  A  is  a  sufficient  con- 
dition, or  cause,  of  B.  As  to  the  meaning  of  that  "must,"  he 
is  willing  to  let  us  make  our  own  choice  among  a  logical 
"must,"  a  physical  or  metaphysical  one,  and  a  "must"  that 
simply  means  universal  factual  association.  In  the  brief  space 


Some  Reflections  on  "The  Case  for  Determinism"  /    171 

of  his  paper  Mr.  Blanshard  certainly  could  not  be  expected 
to  give  a  detailed  analysis  of  the  concept  in  question — this 
would  have  made  it  necessary,  for  example,  to  tackle  the 
hornets'  nest  of  problems  surrounding  the  counterfactual 
conditional.  But  I  think  there  is  reason  to  feel  uneasy  at  the 
sweeping  claims  of  a  determinism  that  is  said  to  hold  true 
equally  for  all  the  different  interpretations  of  "must"  that  Mr. 
Blanshard  allows  us  here. 

Choosing  the  logical  "must,"  for  example,  we  obtain  the 
thesis  that  for  any  event  B  occurring  at  some  time  t^,  there  is 
an  event  A  at  an  earlier  time  i^,  such  that  the  occurrence  of 
A  at  t^  is  a  logically  sufficient  condition  for  the  occurrence  of 
B  at  tj.  But  this  is  trivially  true  in  all  cases.  For  example,  let 
the  occurrence  of  B  at  t,^  consist  in  the  onset  of  rain  on  the 
campus  of  Yale  University  at  noon  of  a  certain  day,  and  let  t^ 
be  11:00  a.m.  of  the  same  day.  Then,  to  show  that  the  deter- 
ministic thesis  with  the  logical  "must"  is  satisfied,  it  suffices 
to  choose  for  A  the  state  of  affairs  that  consists  in  the  condi- 
tion of  the  Yale  campus  exactly  one  hour  before  the  onset  of 
a  rainfall.  To  be  sure,  we  may  not  be  able  to  ascertain  that  A 
prevailed  at  /„  until  the  occurrence  of  B  zi  t^,  but  this  is  irrele- 
vant to  the  point  to  be  proved,  namely  that  there  is  in  fact  a 
state  of  affairs  A  at  t^  that  is  logically  sufficient  for  the 
occurrence  of  B  at  t^. 

The  preceding  argument  shows,  I  think,  that  the  determin- 
istic thesis  with  its  "must"  construed  as  expressing  logical 
necessity  is  of  no  significance  for  the  problem  of  free  choice: 
the  existence  of  an  earlier  state  of  affairs  that  is  a  logically 
sufficient  condition  for  a  given  act  of  choice  surely  does  not 
mean  that  the  act  is  determined  in  any  sense  that  would  cast 
doubt  on  the  freedom  of  choice. 

I  am  not  clear  what  a  metaphysical  construction  of  "must" 
might  come  to,  but  I  should  like  to  add  a  few  words  con- 
cerning the  interpretation  of  "must"  by  reference  to  physical 
— or,  more  generally,  empirical — laws.  On  this  interpretation 
Mr.  Blanshard's  deterministic  thesis  asserts  that  there  exists 
a  set  of  laws  such  that  every  event  5  is  a  consequent,  accord- 
ing to  those  laws,  of  some  preceding  event  A.  But  this  state- 
ment, again,  is  always  true  in  a  trivial  manner.  For  no  matter 
what  the  sequence  of  events  in  the  universe  may  be,  it  can 
always  be  represented  as  a  mathematical  function  of  time; 
and  this  function  provides  the  requisite  law.  Suppose,  for 
example,  that  we  are  interested  only  in  the  changes  of  tem- 
perature and  color  that  occurred  in  the  course  of  the  history 

172    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

of  the  universe  at  a  given  place.  The  temperature  at  any  time 
may  be  measured  on  the  Kelvin  scale  and  represented  by  a 
real  number;  the  color  can  be  similarly  expressed  by  means 
of  a  number  indicating  a  location  in  the  color  scale.  The  tem- 
poral succession  of  temperatures  and  colors  at  the  given  place 
now  corresponds  to  an  assignment  to  each  value  of  the  time 
variable  of  one  temperature  nimiber  and  one  color  number. 
This  determines  two  mathematical  functions,  which  trivially 
furnish  laws  governing  the  chages  of  temperature  and  color  at 
the  given  place.  The  argument  can  now  be  extended  to  apply 
to  the  changes  anj^where  in  the  universe  of  temperature, 
color,  and  any  other  characteristic.  Thus  the  course  of  the 
universe  is  governed  by  functional  laws  (which  may,  however, 
be  so  complex  as  to  be  beyond  the  reach  of  scientific  dis- 
covery) ,  and  the  deterministic  thesis  with  its  "must"  construed 
in  terms  of  empirical  laws  is  true.^  In  fact,  the  laws  here 
referred  to  are  so  strong  that  every  event  is  determined  by 
the  laws  alone,  without  the  need  of  recourse  to  antecedent 

The  argument  here  outlined  shows  that  determinism  in  the 
form  under  discussion  is  trivially  true;  thus  it  can  have  no 
greater  significance  for  the  freedom  of  choice  than  the  truth 
of  the  deterministic  thesis  with  its  "must"  construed  as  repre- 
senting logical  necessity. 

Nor  can  the  truth  of  determinism  on  the  basis  of  this  con- 
struction of  "must"  cheer  the  empirical  scientist,  for  he  is 
interested  in  the  possibility  of  prediction;  and  this  requires 
the  determination  by  law  of  events  by  eariler  ones  in  a 
stronger  sense  than  that  so  far  considered:  the  laws  in  ques- 
tion have  to  be  of  a  sufficiently  simple  kind  to  permit  of 
discovery  and  subsequent  predictive  application  by  himian 
beings.   (Causal  laws  in  the  technical  sense  of  physics  are 

^  The  basic  idea  of  this  argument  is  set  forth  by  Bertrand  Russell  in  his 
essay  "On  the  Notion  of  Cause,"  which  is  reprinted  in  his  book  Mysticism 
and  Logic  (London,  1921).  A  similar  consideration  is  presented  in  Moritz 
Schlick's  essay  "Causality  in  Everyday  Life  and  in  Recent  Science"  (reprinted 
in  H.  Feigl  and  W.  Sellars,  eds..  Readings  in  Philosophical  Analysis  [New 
York,  1949],  pp.  515£E.)  Russell's  idea  is  discussed  also  in  Philip  Frank's 
Philosophy  of  Science  (New  York:  Prentice-Hall,  1957),  which,  in  chaps, 
xi  and  xii,  presents  an  illuminating  analysis  of  the  concepts  of  causality  and 

The  argument  presented  above  calls  for  one  qualifying  remark,  however. 
Not  aU  functions  of  time  can  be  represented  by  analytic  mathematical  expres- 
sions, nor  even  by  symbolic  expressions  of  finite  length  in  a  language  using  a 
finite  or  denumerably  infinite  set  of  different  basic  symbols.  Thus,  not  all 
possible  laws  can  be  expressed  in  the  language  of  science,  just  as  not  all  real 
numbers  can  be  represented  by  numerical  expressions. 

Some  Reflertions  on  "The  Case  for  Determinism"   /     173 

required  to  satisfy  certain  conditions  as  to  mathematical 
form, 2  but  these  need  not  be  considered  here.) 

On  this  interpretation  of  "must"  Mr.  Blanshard's  thesis  is 
by  no  means  trivial.  In  fact,  despite  the  vagueness  introduced 
by  the  requirement  of  formal  simplicity  for  the  laws,  it  makes 
an  extremely  strong  and  sweeping  assertion.  And  I  would  sug- 
gest that  the  objections  to  determinism  that  Mr.  Blanshard 
examines  in  his  paper  be  construed  as  concerning  this  strong 
thesis.  (In  fact,  the  objections  based  on  the  character  of 
quantum  physics  refer  to  the  even  stronger  thesis  of  universal 
causality  in  the  technical  sense  of  physics.) 

2.  On  the  relevance  of  introspective  evidence  to  determin- 
ism. As  for  the  first  objection  to  determinism,  which  refers  to 
a  stubborn  feeling  of  freedom  of  choice,  I  fully  agree  with 
Mr.  Blanshard  that  it  cannot  count  as  evidence  against  deter- 
minism, for  this  kind  of  feeling  can  surely  be  deceptive.  In- 
deed I  think  that  the  feeling  is  irrelevant  to  the  question  of 
causal  determination.  For  in  order  to  decide  whether  a  given 
act  of  choice  is  causally  determined  we  have  to  judge  whether 
there  is  an  antecedent  event  with  which  the  choice  is  con- 
nected by  a  general  law  of  simple  form.  And  surely  the  data 
obtainable  by  introspection,  especially  the  "stubborn  feeling 
of  freedom,"  have  no  bearing  on  this  question.  The  timid  man 
in  a  hypnotist's  audience,  for  example,  who  gets  up  to  make 
a  speech,  may  truthfully  protest  a  feeling  of  complete  free- 
dom in  choosing  to  do  so:  this  is  quite  compatible  with  the 
possibility  that  his  choice  was  causally  determined  (via  gen- 
eral laws  concerning  the  effects  of  hypnosis)  by  the  instruc- 
tions he  received  earlier  under  hypnosis. 

But  it  seems  to  me  that  in  his  defense  of  determinism  Mr. 
Blanshard  makes  use  of  the  very  same  kind  of  argument  that 
he  rightly  rejects  when  it  is  employed  by  indeterminists.  The 
use  of  introspection  illustrated  by  Galton's  case  surely  is  no 
more  suited  to  establishing  the  existence  of  antecedent  con- 
straints determining  choices  according  to  general  laws  than 
the  feeling  of  freedom  invoked  by  the  indeterminists  is  suited 
to  establishing  the  opposite.  A  person's  introspective  reflection 
on  the  motives  that  might  have  determined  a  certain  action 
of  his  can  yield  quite  deceptive  results;  surely  it  is  not  suited 
to  establishing  the  existence  of  general  laws  linking  the  ad- 
duced motives  to  the  action  under  scrutiny. 

'  For  a  discussion  of  these  conditions,  see,  for  example,  H.  Margenau, 
The  Nature  of  Physical  Reality  (New  York,  1950),  chap,  xix,  and  Frank, 
op.  clt.,  chaps,  xi  and  xil. 

174    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

3.  On  levels  of  causation.  In  his  outline  of  a  nonmechani- 
cal  kind  of  determinism  for  psychological  occurrences,  Mr. 
Blanshard  refers  to  aesthetic,  logical,  and  moral  constraints  as 
determining  factors.  Now,  it  would  be  incompatible  with  his 
view  of  causation  to  construe  these  constraints  as  abstract 
aesthetic  ideals,  logical  truths,  and  moral  principles;  for  these 
lack  the  temporal  character  that  Mr.  Blanshard's  definition  of 
determinism  requires  of  all  causal  factors.  To  meet  this  re- 
quirement we  shall  have  to  construe  the  constraints  in  ques- 
tion as  awareness  and  espousal  by  a  given  human  agent  of 
the  ideas  or  ideals  in  question.  In  explaining  the  work  of  a 
given  painter  by  reference  to  certain  aesthetic  ideals,  for 
example,  we  have  to  construe  the  constraining  antecedent 
factor  as  the  disposition  of  the  painter  to  conform  to  those 

There  is  another  consideration  that  lends  support  to  this 
way  of  looking  at  the  matter.  The  attribution  of  a  causal  role 
to  timeless  ideals  and  relations  not  only  violates  Mr.  Blan- 
shard's initial  definition  of  causal  determinism:  it  seem  to  me 
an  inherently  obscure  idea.  Surely  Mr.  Blanshard  must  be 
using  a  metaphor — and  I  think  a  misleading  one — when  he 
speaks  of  an  abstract,  nontemporal  ideal  as  getting  hold  of 
an  artist  and  molding  his  work,  or  of  a  timeless  relation  serv- 
ing as  the  condition  of  a  temporal  passage.  Those  timeless 
entities  cannot  be  held  to  exert  a  xmiversal  causal  influence, 
or  else  there  would  be  no  logical  or  mathematical  errors,  no 
immoral  acts.  And  indeed  Mr.  Blanshard  notes  explicitly  that 
man  is  not  always  guided  by  the  proper  ideals.  Thus  how  a 
given  person  is  going  to  act  will  be  determined,  not  by  an 
ideal  standard  pertinent  to  the  action,  but  rather  by  whether 
or  not  the  agent  has  a  certain  disposition,  namely  that  of 
acting  in  accordance  with  the  standard.  For  example,  so  far 
as  honesty  can  be  said  to  have  been  a  causal  determinant  of 
George  Washington's  confessing  about  the  cherry  tree,  it 
suffices  to  describe  this  factor  as  Washington's  disposition  to 
act  honestly,  and  it  would  be  an  unnecesary,  and  indeed  very 
risky,  hypostatization  to  attribute  his  confession  to  the  super- 
venience,  from  a  higher  causal  level,  of  the  timeless  moral 
ideal  of  honesty. 

Yet  this  avoidance  of  an  appeal  to  causal  determinants  of 
a  higher  order  involves  no  "mechanistic"  or  "materialistic" 
assumptions:  in  particular,  it  does  not  presuppose  the  reduci- 
bility  of  psychology  to  physics  and  chemistry;  that  is,  the 
possibility   of    fully    describing    all   psychological   events   in 

Some  Reflections  on  "The  Case  for  Determinism"  /     175 

physicochemical  terms  or  the  possibility  of  explaining  them 
by  means  of  physicochemical  laws. 

Nor,  of  course,  does  the  viewpoint  here  suggested  imply 
that  all  psychological  phenomena  are  causally  determined 
either  by  dispositions  of  the  kind  just  mentioned  or  by  other 
factors.  In  fact,  as  was  pointed  out  at  the  end  of  Section  1, 
above,  the  thesis  of  universal  determinism  is  inherently  vague; 
it  is  not  as  clear  and  precise  an  assertion  as,  say,  a  law  of 
physics.  At  the  same  time,  the  thesis  makes  a  tremendously 
stronger  claim  than  a  physical  law,  for  it  asserts  the  existence 
of  a  comprehensive  set  of  laws  suflScient  to  determine  every 
event  in  the  world  of  our  experience.  And  the  extent  to  which 
this  claim  is  correct  cannot  be  discovered  by  philosophical 
reasoning  alone,  nor  by  reference  to  the  crude  data  provided 
by  everyday  experience  or  introspection:  it  has  to  be  ascer- 
tained by  means  of  rigorous  and  extensive  scientific  research. 

Chapter  7 

Some  Further  Reflections  on 
Moral  Responsibility 

Howard  W.  Hintz,  Brooklyn  College 

Professor  Hospers'  teiesis  (like  Professor  Edwards')  denies 
the  existence  of  moral  responsibility  in  any  sense  in  which  an 
/  individual  can  be  held  finally  accountable  or  answerable  for 
his  acts.  Thus,  by  the  analysis  of  the  term  and  concept  of 
responsibility  attempted  by  Edwards  and  Hospers,  "responsi- 
bility" is  relegated  to  the  status  of  a  pragmatic  device  by 
which  a  person  may  by  some  sort  of  persuasion,  admonition, 
threat,  punishment,  or  other  social  pressure  be  induced  to 
7^  pursue  a  course  of  behavior  consonant  with  the  norms  ap- 
proved and  established  by  a  given  culture  group. 

What  I  want  particularly  to  do  in  this  brief  criticism  is  not 
categorically  to  deny  the  validity  of  the  Edwards-Hospers 
thesis  but  to  point  out  what  I  believe  its  necessary  corollaries 
and  implications  as  far  as  ethical  considerations  are  con- 
cerned. Thus  I  do  not  see  how  we  can  escape  the  conclusion 
that  this  thesis  destroys  the  foundations  of  all  prescriptive 
ethics  except  on  the  arbitrary-power  level.  If,  as  suggested 
above,  the  possibility  of  establishing  moral  values  and  stand- 
ards is  removed,  then  the  basis  of  meaningful  and  purposeful 
living,  of  human  dignity,  and  ultimately  of  civilized  society 
itself  is  undermined.  It  should  be  further  noted  that  the  thesis 
is  not  only  deterministic  (despite  Hospers'  denial  of  the  rele- 
vance of  the  determinism  issue)  but  fatalistic,  no  matter  how 
much  the  fact  may  be  disguised. 

Neither  the  Edwards-Hospers'  analysis  nor  any  other  deter- 
ministic explanation  has  yet  succeded  in  refuting  the  fact  that 
aU  individuals  above  the  idiot  level  possess  in  some  sense, 
however  limited  by  internal  or  external  compulsions,  the 
power  of  choice,  the  power  to  decide  and  to  select  among  a 
given  set  of  alternatives,  or,  to  follow  G.  E.  Moore,  the 
ability  to  say  meaningfully,  after  certain  types  of  choices  have 
been  made,  "I  could  have  chosen  or  acted  differently."  The 
inescapable  truth  of  this  is  repeatedly  demonstrated  by  the 
fact  that  on  reflection  and  a  subsequent  awareness  of  the  con- 
sequences of  a  choice,  all  of  us,  when  a  similar  set  of  altema- 


Some  Further  Reflections  on  Moral  Responsibility  /    177 

tives  is  presented  to  us  a  second  or  third  time,  choose  dififer- 
ently  because  we  have  been  dissatisfied  with  the  consequences 
of  the  former  choice. 

The  attempt  to  invalidate  freedom  and  power  of  choice  on 
the  grounds  that  choices  are  attributable  to  underlying  desires, 
to  previous  conditioning,  and  to  basic  qualities  of  character 
is,  it  seems  to  me,  highly  factitious.  It  is  saying  nothing  more 
than  that  a  cause  and  effect  relationship  prevails  in  the  phe- 
nomena of  human  behavior  as  it  does  in  other  natural 
phenomena;  it  is  simply  to  assert  the  principle  of  causality. 
But  rather  than  vitiating  the  meaningfulness  of  discriminating 
choices  and  acts  of  will,  causality  itself  is  a  primary  condition 
of  meaningful  choice. 

Is  there  any  possible  way — within  the  framework  of  a 
causal  determinism  rooted  in  the  obvious  psychological  and 
naturalistic  facts  of  human  experience  as  outlined  by  Edwards 
and  Hospers — in  which  we  can  retrieve  a  modicum  of  indi- 
vidual moral  responsibility  and  hence  of  human  dignity?  I 
believe  it  is  not  only  possible  but  essential  that  we  do  so  by 
recourse  to  the  familiar  principle  (constantly  stressed  by 
John  Dewey)  that  each  man  is  responsible  for  making  the 
best  choice  available  to  hun  within  the  scope  of  his  limitations 
and  his  powers.  That  these  limitations  and  powers  differ 
widely  among  men  no  one  will  deny.  But  to  the  extent  that  an 
individual  acts  or  fails  to  act  responsibly  within  the  range  of 
his  capacities,  whatever  they  may  be,  to  that  extent  he  is 
praiseworthy  or  blameworthy.  It  is  only  because  this  principle 
is  universally  recognized  in  everyday  experience  and  practice 
that  any  tj^e  of  social  order  is  even  possible. 
Two  additional  points  should  be  emphasized: 

1.  Hospers'  thesis  not  only  destroys  moral  responsibility:  it' 
also  destroys  all  rationality  in  human  experience.  If  we  ac- 
cept the  proposition  that  a  man  acts  only  as  previous  deter- 
mining and  conditioning  factors  compel  him  to  act,  then  I 
submit  that  the  function  and  office  of  reasoning  have  been 
utterly  destroyed,  for  the  very  question  whether  a  man  rea- 
sons or  not  is  then  completely  dependent  on  the  allegedly  for- 
tuitous and  contingent  factors  that  shaped  his  nature  and 
character.  His  reasoning  or  nonreasoning  then  becomes  pure  ; 
accident  and  is  therefore,  by  definition,  removed  from  the 
area  of  rational  choice.  I  do  not  see  how  Hospers  can  escape 
the  logical  necessity  of  this  conclusion.  ^ 

2.  However  emphatically  Hospers  may  deny  the  relevance 
to  his  argument  of  the  determinism-indeterminism  issue,  his 

178    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

thesis  is  not  only  deterministic:  it  is  wholly  fatalistic.  My  quar- 
rel is  not  with  determinism — at  least  in  some  of  its  forms — 
but  with  Hospers'  denial  of  the  relevance  of  his  thesis  to  the 
determinism  issue.  How  can  the  logic  of  Hospers'  argument 
possibly  escape  the  ultimate  assertion  of  fatalism?  If  every- 
thing that  a  man  chooses  or  decides  or  does — including  the 
decisions  he  makes  after  reflection  and  deliberation —  is  en- 
tirely the  result  of  the  conditioning  factors  of  his  heredity  and 
his  environment,  then  what  conceivable  area  of  what  we  have 
traditionally  called  moral  choice  has  not  been  predetermined? 
Wherein,  then,  does  Hospers'  position  differ  fundamentally 
from  that  of  Jonathan  Edwards,  who  maintained  that  a  man 
may  choose  what  he  wills  to  do  but  that  he  has  no  choice 
about  what  he  wills  to  choose?  In  his  own  explication  of  pre- 
determinism  and  predestination  Jonathan  Edwards  was,  as  has 
long  been  recognized,  strictly  logical,  and  accepted,  however 
reluctantly,  all  the  implications  of  his  logical  consistency.  Is 
Hospers,  I  wonder,  willing  to  do  the  same?  Jonathan  Edwards 
finally  was  driven  by  his  own  rigorous  logic  to  concede  that 
free  will  was  an  illusion.  Is  Hospers,  with  equal  logical  con- 
sistency, willing  to  admit  the  same? 

Neither  can  I  recognize  the  validity  of  the  distinction  Hos- 
pers makes  between  the  so-called  upper  and  lower  levels  of 
responsibility — which  presumably  is  a  distinction  between  de- 
sires on  the  one  hand  and  specific  choices  and  actions  on  the 
other.  On  the  upper  level,  says  Hospers,  will,  choice,  and  re- 
sponsibihty  are  meaningful;  on  the  lower  level  of  desires  they 
are  not.  But  if  my  underlying  desires  are  the  wellspring  of  my 
volitions  and  my  actions,  how  can  the  upper  level  of  respon- 
sibility be  disengaged  from  the  lower  level?  In  point  of  fact  the 
two  levels  are  constantly  interacting — so  that  the  choices  I 
make  and  the  acts  I  perform  today  on  an  upper-level  volitional 
basis  affect  in  large  measure  the  desires  I  shall  have  tomorrow. 
At  this  juncture  the  two  levels  would  seem  to  merge  indistin- 
guishably.  The  individual  choices  of  the  present  are  not  only 
causative  agents  of  future  events  and  future  acts:  they  are 
also  generating  and  modifying  agents  of  new  desires  and  al- 
tered character  structures. 

It  is  now  widely  recognized  among  moral  philosophers  that, 
no  matter  how  irrefutable  the  logic  of  absolute  psychological 
or  naturalistic  determinism  may  be,  sane  and  rational  human 
beings  in  order  to  retain  their  sanity,  their  rationality,  and 
their  purposefulness  in  living  still  stubbornly  insist  on  decid- 
ing, choosing,  and  acting  as  though  they  were  autonomous, 

Some  Further  Reflections  on  Moral  Responsibility  /     179 

dignified,  and  free  individuals.  This  is  the  phenomenon,  above 
all,  that  still  needs  to  be  explained,  and — therein  lies  the  crux 
of  my  argument — the  explanation  is  not  to  be  found  in  the 
Edwards-Hospers  thesis.  I  suspect  that  the  most  disturbing 
and  serious  weakness  of  this  thesis  lies  in  the  fact  that  it  is 
based  on  a  groundwork  of  completely  unproved  and  possibly 
unprovable  assumptions.  If  it  represents  a  form  of  determin- 
ism, as  I  have  insisted,  it  is  not  a  scientific  determinism,  but  a 
rationalistic  determinism  differing  in  no  essential  respects 
from  Calvanistic  fatalism  as  far  as  its  hypothetical  assumptions 
and  practical  implications  are  concerned.  Hospers  is  right  in 
divorcing  his  thesis  from  the  conclusion  of  empiricists  like 
Hume,  Mill,  and  Schlick.  There  is  indeed  nothing  empirical 
about  his  position.  -^ 

For  the  fact  is  that  scientifically  and  empirically  we  are  at 
the  present  moment  far  from  having  a  complete  knowledge  of 
the  meaning  and  dimensions  of  human  character  structure,  of 
the  complexity  of  the  forces  that  create,  modify,  or  alter  this 
structure  or,  most  significantly,  of  the  degree  to  which  the 
human  organism  contains  within  itself  the  autonomous  power 
to  alter,  to  originate,  to  create,  and  thus  to  overcome  previous 
conditioning.  It  has  yet  to  be  demonstrated,  empirically  and 
scientifically,  that  acts  of  will,  choices  and  decisions,  and  new 
conditioning  forces  may  not  radically  alter  character  structure 

We  might  well  be  reminded  at  this  point  of  Whitehead's 
conception  of  origination  and  creativity  as  the  distinguishing 
marks  of  an  "actual  entity"  or  of  the  life  principle  itself. 

Chapter  8 


Sidney  Hook,  New  York  University 

If  the  criterion  of  a  necessary  statement  is  that  its  denial  is 
self-contradictory,  then  none  but  logical  statements  or  those 
declared  true  in  virtue  of  their  form  alone  are  strictly  neces- 
sary. "Every  effect  has  a  cause"  is  a  necessary  statement. 
"Every  event  has  a  cause"  and  "Every  event  is  a  cause  of  an- 
other event"  are  not  necessary  statements.  If  determinism  is 
^ '  the  belief  that  all  events  have  causes  and  are  themselves  causes 
■p^  of  other  events,  its  denial  is  not  self-contradictory.  The  only 
,  evidence  we  can  have  for  belief  in  the  validity  of  determinism 
ij^  empirical:  the  success  of  our  predictions. 

Nonetheless,  "predictability"  and  "determinism"  are  not  by 
any  means  interchangeable  terms  although  they  are  related. 
Indeterminism  entails  unpredictability  in  respect  to  a  char- 
acter or  event  assumed  to  be  undetermined.  In  a  chance  world 
God  might  be  able  to  foresee  any  or  all  specific,  fortuitous 
events;  but  if  successful  guesses  are  ruled  out  as  predictions, 
men  in  such  a  world  could  make  no  genuine  predictions.  Un- 
predictability, however,  does  not  entail  indeterminism,  since 
it  is  compatible  with  the  existence  of  a  theoretically  deter- 
mined system  of  such  vast  complexity  that  it  is  beyond  human 
power  to  make  correct  predictions.  This  raises  a  problem  that 
I  attempted  in  vain  to  get  the  speakers  and  participants  in  the 
Institute  to  address  themselves  to:  viz..  What  is  the  pragmatic 
'  difference  between  asserting  that  a  system  or  state  of  affairs 
^:  is  undetermined  and  asserting  that  the  system  is  so  complexly 
^l^etermined  that  no  predictions  can  be  reliably  made? 

If  one  must  choose  between  these  two  assertions,  it  is  reason- 
able to  defend  the  assertion  that  the  apparently  undetermined 
system  is  actually  a  complexly  determined  one  on  heuristic 
grounds.  If  we  act  on  the  assumption  that  a  system  is  deter- 
mined, then  it  is  more  likely  that  we  shall  discover  laws  and 
make  successful  predictions  about  the  future  than  if  we  as- 
sume that  chance  reigns.  But  can  anything  more  than  this  be 


Necessity,  Indeterminism,  and  Sentimentalism  /     181 

said  for  the  belief  in  determinism?  It  does  not  carry  us  beyond 
Peirce's  observation  that  determinism  is  a  postulate,  and  a 
postulate  is  something  we  hope  is  true.  Obviously,  to  say  that 
all  events  are  caused,  that  determinism  holds  not  only  in  this 
or  that  area,  but  universally,  is  always  to  say  more  than  we 
definitely  know  at  any  actual  time,  even  if  we  have  a  right  to 
say  it — a  right  that  is  contested  by  scientists  who  assert  that 
the  advance  of  scientific  knowledge  no  longer  depends  on  it  in 
every  domain.  We  can  definitely  reject  indeterminism  as  false 
if  it  asserts  that  nothing  is  determined,  because  we  know  that 
some  things  are;  but  if  it  asserts  merely  that  not  everything  is 
determined,  it  cannot  be  rejected  out  of  hand.  The  issue  must 
be  joined  in  the  field  where  the  sway  of  determinism  is  dis- 
puted. Operationally,  however,  the  only  evidence  one  can 
have  for  the  belief  that  a  state  of  affairs  is  determined,  as  dis- 
tinct from  the  reasonableness  of  the  hope  and  faith  that  it  is, 
is  measured  by  the  degree  to  which  we  can  control,  predict, 
construct,  and,  to  use  Professor  Black's  phrase,  "make  things 

If  I  understand  Professor  Blanshard,  he  overstates  the  case 
for  determinism  by  interpreting  causality  in  the  realm  of  cog- 
nitive mental  events,  with  some  overtones  that  in  the  end  this 
is  true  for  aU  events,  as  a  relation  of  necessity.  He  assimilates, 
although  he  does  not  completely  identify,  the  necessities  of 
aesthetic  and  moral  thinking  to  logical  thinking,  which  itself  is 
partly  under  the  constraint  of  objective  logical  necessity  in 
the  subject  matter  thought  about.  I  see  no  valid  reason  for  in- 
terpreting determinism  in  this  way  when  applied  to  thinking 
in  any  or  all  of  its  forms.  According  to  his  conception  of 
determinism,  an  event,  "thinking,"  whether  it  is  thinking 
about  music  or  mathematics  or  anything  at  all,  is  said  to  be 
determined  if  some  other  event,  or  set  of  events,  is  a  sufficient 
condition  of  its  occurrence.  The  same  is  true  whether  the 
event  in  question  is  "dreaming"  or  "hoping,"  "creating"  or 
"deducing."  It  still  remains  true  whether  the  event  is  "think- 
ing correctly"  or  "thinking  incorrectly."  If  determinism  is 
valid  as  applied  to  the  realm  of  mind,  an  incorrect  answer  to 
any  question  is  just  as  much  determined,  just  as  "necessary" 
in  Professor  Blanshard's  sense,  as  a  correct  answer.  This  does 
not  wipe  out  or  call  into  question  in  any  way  the  difference 
between  a  correct  and  an  incorrect  answer.  It  indicates  only 
that  what  makes  the  difference  between  the  objectively  correct 
and  objectively  incorrect  answer,  especially  if  interpreted  as 
the  enduring  presence  of  objective,  timeless  truths,  is  irrele- 

182     /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

vant  in  answering  the  question  whether,  given  the  mental 
event  B,  whatever  its  character,  true  or  false  etc.,  there  exists 
another  event,  or  set  of  events.  A,  such  that  y4  is  a  sufficient 
condition  of  B.  If  over  and  above  ^4,  it  is  necessary  to  invoke 
the  compulsion  of  timeless  truths  to  explain  B  when  B  con- 
sists in  the  thinking  of  a  correct  answer,  why  is  it  not  neces- 
sary to  invoke  the  compulsion  of  timeless  errors  or  falsities  to 
explain  B  when  B  consists  in  the  thinking  of  an  incorrect 

Empirically  I  am  not  at  all  convinced  that  the  musician, 
for  example,  of  whom  Professor  Blanshard  speaks,  who  adds 
one  bar  to  another  in  the  process  of  composition  always  does 
so  because  he  feels  that  it  is  an  aesthetically  required  neces- 
sity, and  that  his  feeling  so  is  either  a  necessary  or  sufficient 
condition  for  the  mental  event  that  consists  in  the  composing 
of  the  bar.  He  must  sound  the  bar  before  he  can  judge  or 
feel  whether  it  is  aesthetically  required.  If  it  is  determined  it 
must  be  determined  by  a  previous  event.  A  musician  might 
have  the  feeling  of  aesthetic  necessity  for  any  one  or  even 
a  number  of  quite  different  ways  of  completing  a  musical 
phrase,  and  a  critic  might  say  that  the  musician  was  mistaken 
in  his  judgment  or  feeling  about  each  variant.  In  general, 
whether  anything  is  required  in  a  creation  or  not  cannot  be 
ascertained  independently  of  a  purpose,  aim,  or  goal  — 
whether  of  artist,  critic,  or  spectator.  Once  this  is  given,  the 
question  of  what  is  required  permits  of  an  objective  and  rcla- 
j  tive  solution.  We  sometimes  say  that  a  goal,  plan,  or  purpose 
!  determines  the  occurrence  of  an  event.  But  this  is  an  ellipsis. 
It  is  the  thought  or  desire  of  the  goal,  a  psychic  or  physico- 
psychic  event,  that  determines,  if  determinism  operates  in  the 
realm  of  mind. 

There  is  one  curious  feature  in  Professor  Blanshard's 
brilliant  essay.  He  begins  by  denying  that  the  content  of  con- 
sciousness, "the  stubborn  feeling"  of  being  free  and  undeter- 
mined, is  sufficient  to  disprove  the  fact  of  determinism.  But 
before  he  concludes  he  cites  with  approval  the  plain  man's 
stubborn  feeling  of  absurdity  or  incredulity  at  the  idea  that 
the  determinism  to  which  he  has  no  objections  "as  applied  by 
physicists  to  atoms,  by  himself  to  machines,  or  by  his  doctor 
to  his  body,"  can  be  applied  by  anyone  "to  his  reflection  and 
will."  No  matter  how  strong  the  feeling,  it  seems  to  me  no 
more  decisive  in  assessing  the  validity  of  the  claim  that  such 
a  determinism  can  be  applied  to  man  than  in  appraising  the 
claims  of  indeterminism.  As  evidence  tWs  feeling  is  not  to  be 

Necessity,  Indeterminism,  and  Sentimentalism   /    183 

ignored  or  dismissed;  but  it  is  less  weighty  than  the  "medical 
evidence"  (I  use  the  expression  as  a  summary  term  for  all 
the  scientific  evidence)  that  willing  and  reflecting,  like  all 
other  mental  processes,  are  in  manifold  ways,  too  numerous  to 
mention  here,  dependent  on  the  brain  and  other  conditions 
of  the  human  body  and  human  society.  Undoubtedly  it  goes 
beyond  the  evidence  to  say  that  all  willing  and  reflecting  are 
dependent  on  earlier  events  in  the  history  of  the  acculturated 
organism  that  is  man.  But  it  is  less  unreasonable  to  believe  it 
than  any  other  alternative.  We  have  more  evidence  for  it  to- 
day than  a  hundred  years  ago.  If  we  have  still  more  evidence 
for  it  a  hundred  years  from  now,  it  will  be  an  even  more 
reasonable  belief,  unless  there  is  better  evidence  for  some 
other  alternative. 


Normally  I  should  be  reluctant  to  speak  of  the  principle 
of  indeterminacy  in  the  presence  of  physicists,  but  having 
recently  read  what  eminent  physicists  have  written  about 
philosophy  I  feel  absolutely  shameless.  In  addition,  the  inter- 
pretation of  the  principle  of  indeterminacy  presented  by  both 
Professors  Bridgman  and  Land6  obviously  raises  no  specific 
questions  in  physics  but  treats  of  matters,  as  Professor  Munitz 
points  out,  traditionally  considered  in  the  philosophy  of  sci- 
ence. I  have  no  "emotional  commitment"  to  the  view  that 
every  individual  event  in  the  area  investigated  by  quantum 
theor^  as  well  as  in  the  macroscopic  world  is  causally  deter- 
mined. Nor  do  I  regard  the  principle  of  causality  as  a  logical 
principle  applicable  of  necessity  to  everything.  Even  if  it  is 
considered  a  presupposition  to  understanding  anything,  it 
does  not  follow  that  everything  can  or  will  be  understood. 
Since  we  did  not  create  the  world  we  ought  to  be  able  to 
recover  from  our  surprise  at  its  ways.  So  far  as  I  can  under- 
stand, no  one  challenges  the  truth  of  the  experimental  findings 
of  the  quantum  physicist  but  only  his  way  of  talking  about 
them.  When  he  says  that  there  is  a  pattern  of  statistical  regu- 
larity for  the  swarm  of  haphazardly  moving  photons  that 
enables  us  to  make  predictions  about  their  aggregate  behavior, 
there  is  no  problem.  When  he  says  that  the  individual  photon 
is  not  causally  determined  and  that,  by  the  very  nature  of 
our  attempt  to  investigate  and  describe  it,  it  cannot  be,  the 
bewilderment  begins.  In  scientific  inquiry  the  language  of 
common  sense  is  notoriously  misleading  and  must  often  be 
abandoned  in  the  interest  of  clarity,  precision,  and  fruitful- 

184    /   Determinism  and  Freedom 

ness.  But  sometimes  there  is  a  needless  paradox-and-puzzle- 
making  quality  in  the  talk  of  physicists  reporting  or  inter- 
preting their  findings  in  common-sense  terms.  This  was  very 
fashionable  in  the  early  years  of  relativity  theory.  Assuming 
that  the  idiom  of  determinism  is  the  language  in  which  com- 
mon sense  understands  the  behavior  of  things,  must  it  neces- 
sarily be  abandoned  at  some  point  in  the  study  of  micro- 
physical  phenomena?  I  am  quite  willing  to  leave  this  question 
to  the  community  of  physicists,  especially  since  new  scientific 
knowledge  is  being  won  independently  of  the  language  habits 
and  thought  ways  of  plain  men  and  professional  philosophers. 
My  doubts  arise  only  when  the  quantum  physicist  offers  an 
explanation  and,  far  from  insisting  on  the  uniqueness  of  the 
microphysical  situation,  claims  that  it  is  familiar  in  ordinary 
situations  in  which  until  now  there  seemed  no  need  to  aban- 
don the  concepts  of  causality  and  determinism. 

"It  is  to  be  expected,"  says  Professor  Bridgman,  "that  the 
roots  of  the  difficulties  revealed  to  us  by  quantum  theory  are 
already  present  in  the  sphere  of  ordinary  life  and  should  be 
discoverable  by  acute  enough  analysis."  With  this.  Professor 
Land6  cordially  agrees.  The  two  classes  of  phenomena  in 
ordinary  life  that  presumably  illustrate  in  an  analogical  way 
the  principle  of  indeterminacy  are  (1)  games  of  chance  (of 
which  Land6's  game  of  balls  dropped  through  a  chute  onto 
a  knife  edge  may  be  considered  an  ideal  case)  or  games  of 
insurance  in  which,  although  statistical  frequencies  of  mor- 
talities are  predictable,  individual  deaths  are  not,  and  (2) 
measurement  that  "interferes"  with  the  state  of  the  physical 
situation  investigated. 

1.  I  venture  to  suggest  that  if  ordinary  games  of  chance  or 
insurance  are  the  analogues  of  the  principle  of  indeter- 
minacy, then  no  special  language  is  required  to  describe  the 
behavior  of  photons;  nor  is  it  necessary  to  abandon  the  prin- 
ciple of  causality.  In  a  clear  and  legitimate  sense  it  is  possible 
for  the  insurance  actuary  to  say  that,  although  his  knowledge 
of  statistical  regularities  does  not  enable  him  to  predict  on 
the  basis  of  this  kind  of  data  whether  and  when  any  indi- 
vidual, X,  wiU  die,  it  would  be  the  sheerest  dogmatism  to  assert 
that  no  matter  what  other  data  were  available  to  a  physician 
or  biologist  such  a  prediction  could  not  be  made.  For  the  fact 
is  that  sometimes  such  predictions  are  made  with  remarkable 
accuracy,  and  there  is  every  reason  to  believe  that  their  ac- 
curacy will  increase.  Similarly,  if  the  values  of  the  different 
variables  that  aflfect  the  fall  of  a  particular  ball  were  known, 

Necessity,  Indetenninisin,  and  Sentimentalism  /     185 

the  laws  of  classical  mechanics  could  supply  a  reliable  an- 
swer as  to  where  a  particular  ball  would  fall.  It  may  be 
difficult  to  discover  the  values  of  some  of  these  variables,  but 
the  difficulty  is  not  of  the  kind  that  makes  it  impossible  to 
specify  simultaneously  the  position  and  velocity  of  a  sub- 
atomic particle.  For  in  learning  the  values  of  some  of  the 
variables  affecting  the  fall  of  the  ball  we  are  not  thereby  of 
necessity  precluded  from  learning  the  values  of  the  other 
variables,  as  is  allegedly  the  case  with  subatomic  particles. 

Professor  Land6  retorts  that  as  far  as  his  illustration  of  the 
falling  balls  is  concerned  this  type  of  criticism  is  only  a  back- 
handed way  of  recognizing  randomness  and  the  absence  of 
causality  by  pushing  it  farther  back.  Once  "irreducible  ran- 
dom" is  accepted,  he  tells  us,  it  is  a  comparatively  minor 
matter  whether  "(c)  each  new  experiment  constitutes  a  new 
game  of  chance  (as  quantum  theory  maintains),  or  (b) 
random  was  set  up  once,  a  long  or  infinite  time  ago,  and 
random  distributions  observed  at  present  are  but  the  deter- 
ministic effects  of  that  one  initial  'shuffling  of  the  cards'  (as 
classical  statistical  mechanics  maintains)." 

This  seems  to  me  to  assume  that  in  a  deterministic  system 
everything  is  to  be  explained.  But  a  deterministic  system  is 
one  whose  state  at  any  future  time  we  can  predict  if  the  initial 
conditions  and  its  laws  are  known.  It  is  not  the  less  deter- 
mined because  we  cannot  derive  the  initial  conditions  and 
laws  from  some  other  system.  Suppose  we  could:  the  same 
thing  would  hold  for  that  system.  Any  "basic  and  irreducible" 
set  of  initial  conditions  set  up  "a  long  or  infinite  time  ago" 
would  be  a  "random"  distribution.  What  would  be  an  "un- 
random"  distribution?  Something  that  could  be  derived  from 
a  previous  distribution?  If  so,  then  the  term  "random"  is 
actually  being  used  synonymously  with  "underivcd"  by  Pro- 
fessor Land6.  Unless  I  radically  misunderstand  him,  all  he  is 
really  calling  attention  to  is  the  fact  that  every  determined 
system  must  start  from  some  initial  conditions  of  material 
distribution  before  our  laws  can  be  used  to  make  specific 
predictions.  This  is  a  logical  truth  about  the  nature  of  any 
material  system:  some  data  must  at  some  p>oint  be  given  as 
basic  and  irreducible.  It  is  not  a  discovery  but  a  tautology.  If 
it  constituted  an  objection  to  the  possibility  of  "a  deterministic 
system,"  the  expression  would  be  meaningless.  Even  a  mathe- 
matical system  has  some  undefined  terms  and  undemonstrable 

2.  That  the  subject  investigated  is  affected  by  the  instru- 

186     /   Determinism  and  Freedom 

ments  and  methods  of  investigation  is  an  important  point.  I 
am  in  wholehearted  agreement  with  Professor  Bridgman 
about  it.  But  its  implication  is — so  it  seems  to  me — to  call 
into  question  not  the  principle  of  causality  but  the  "spectator 
theory"  of  knowledge.  Sometimes  the  interaction  produced 
by  the  use  of  instruments  and  techniques  makes  it  difficult 
to  predict  accurately  the  outcome  of  an  investigation.  Some- 
times, however,  these  reactions  are  foreseeable.  A  surgeon  can 
allow  for  the  effect  of  his  probe  or  knife  on  the  organism;  a 
psychologist  for  the  resistance  his  question  arouses  in  his 
subject;  a  public  opinion  expert,  for  the  effect  of  the  publica- 
tion of  his  poll  on  behavior  at  the  election  poUs.  If  the  extent 
to  which  the  immersion  of  a  thermometer  in  a  solution  raises 
the  temperature  of  the  solution  is  not  detectable  at  present, 
this  by  itself  is  not  a  sufficient  reason  to  assert  that  it  wiU 
always  remain  undetectable. 

I  am  prepared  to  grant  that  every  act  of  inquiry  into 
matters  of  fact  involves  the  use  of  our  body  and  its  organs  as 
instruments,  and  that  the  process  of  inquiry  is  one  in  which 
some  actual  change  in  the  structure  of  the  situation  to  be 
known  takes  place.  To  the  extent  that  this  is  true,  it  is  true 
whether  the  objects  investigated  are  large  or  small.  I  can 
see  that  sometimes  it  makes  sense  to  say  that  "a  small  instru- 
ment can  find  out  more  about  a  large  object  than  a  large 
instrument  can  find  out  about  a  small  object."  But  I  can  see 
that  sometimes  the  contrary  makes  sense  too:  for  example, 
when  we  bring  to  bear  on  a  microcellular  organism  a  high- 
powered  microscope  that  magnifies  it  many  times  over.  What 
could  we  learn  about  such  an  organism  with  an  instrument 
smaller  than  itself?  Perhaps  it  is  true  that  a  large  instrument 
produces  greater  changes  in  a  small  object  than  a  small  in- 
strument in  a  large  object,  but  I  should  have  imagined  that 
not  the  size  but  the  relevance  and  significance  of  the  change  is 
the  point  at  issue  where  prediction  is  concerned.  I  therefore 
cannot  see  why  it  should  make  more  sense  to  say,  merely  be- 
cause of  the  facts  of  instrumentation,  that  causality  should 
fail  for  small  objects  than  that  it  should  fail  for  large,  espe- 
cially since  a  large  object  can  sometimes  be  considered  an 
organized  system  of  small  objects.  I  could  believe  the  contrary 
just  as  well.  My  only  difficulty  is  that  I  cannot  see  any  reason 
why  we  must  believe  one  or  the  other,  or  change  the  idiom 
of  our  talk  as  we  go  from  one  to  the  other.  I  conclude,  there- 
fore, with  the  observation  that  although  "the  Heisenberg  un- 
certainty relation  does  not  outrage  my  feeling  of  what  makes 

Necessity,  Indeterminism,  and  Sentimentalism  /    187 

sense"  I  have  not  been  convinced,  by  anything  Professors 
Bridgman  and  Land6  have  said  about  ordinary  experience, 
that  it  is  necessary  to  interpret  the  uncertainty  relation  as 
entailing  a  denial  of  the  relation  of  causality. 


The  fatal  error  in  the  papers  of  Professors  Hospers  and 
Edwards,  as  read,  is  that  they  alternate  between  two  concep- 
tions of  "moral  responsibility" — one,  a  conception  of  moral 
responsibility  as  empty  but  meaningful,  and  the  other  as 
vacuous  and  meaningless.  On  the  first  conception,  although  it 
may  be  true  in  fact  that  no  one  is  morally  responsible,  we  can 
state  the  conditions  under  which  one  might  be.  We  can  differ- 
entiate between  the  two  states.  On  the  second,  there  are  no 
possible  conditions  under  which  anyone  can  be  declared 
"morally  responsible."  The  expression  has  no  intelligible  op- 
posite and  thus  makes  no  sense. 

The  force  of  most  of  their  arguments,  which  gives  them  an 
air  of  high  moral  concern,  is  based  on  the  assumption  that 
under  certain  circumstances  individuals  are  being  improperly 
considered  responsible.  Hospers  actually  says  that  "frequently 
persons  we  think  responsible  are  not  properly  to  be  called  so," 
and  Edwards  implies  the  same  thing.  They  explicitly  appeal 
against  the  injustice  of  improperly  blaming  the  morally  in- 
nocent who,  because  their  desires  are  determined,  are  the 
victims,  not  the  agents,  of  misfortune.  We  eagerly  await  the 
description  of  the  set  of  conditions  under  which  an  individual 
is  properly  held  responsible,  under  which  he  is  not  a  victim 
of  circumstances.  It  then  turns  out  that  even  if  his  desires 
were  undetermined,  even  if  circumstances  were  completely 
different,  he  would  still  not  be  responsible,  would  still  be  a 
morally  innocent  victim.  The  empty  conception  of  moral  re- 
sponsibility becomes  completely  vacuous.  This  makes  the 
whole  procedure  of  Professors  Hospers  and  Edwards  method- 
ologically self-defeating,  and  particularly  their  expressions 
of  concern  about  the  injustice  of  blaming  the  morally  in- 
nocent. For  to  be  morally  innocent  of  having  committed  an 
evil  deed  entails  that  one  is  not  responsible  for  its  commission, 
and  to  be  morally  guilty  entails  that  one  is.  //  moral  responsi- 
bility is  a  vacuous  expression,  then  moral  innocence  and  guilt 
are  too.  Were  Hospers  and  Edwards  consistent  they  could  not 
plead  for  the  innocent  or  condemn  the  guilty.  Edwards  in 
places  suggests  that  a  person  would  be  responsible  if  he  could 
ultimately  and  completely  shape  or  choose  his  own  character. 

188    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

But  this  is  explaining  an  obscure  notion  by  a  still  obscurer 
one.  Since  every  decision  to  shape  or  choose  one's  character, 
to  be  responsible,  must  be  one's  own,  and  therefore  already 
an  indication  of  the  kind  of  person  one  is,  the  notion  that  one 
can  ultimately  and  completely  shape  or  choose  one's  character 
is  unintelligible.  C.  A.  Campbell,  to  be  sure,  tries  to  distinguish 
between  a  choice  that  is  the  expression  of  a  formed  character, 
and  therefore  determined,  and  a  choice  of  a  self.  But  on 
Hospers'  and  Edwards'  argument  what  is  true  of  character 
must  be  true  of  self.  Either  the  self  has  the  power  to  mold 
character  or  it  has  not.  In  either  case  it  cannot  be  held  re- 
sponsible for  having  or  not  having  such  a  native  power.  And 
the  same  is  true  if  we  bring  in  a  Self  to  explain  the  powers 
of  the  self  and  a  Great  Self  to  explain  the  powers  of  the  Self, 

It  is  true  that  the  notion  of  moral  responsibility  is  often 
ambiguous  and  not  clearly  defined  in  ordinary  experience.  But 
if  we  follow  Professor  Hart's  illuminating  procedure,  we  can 
recognize  certain  actions  in  which  we  clearly  admit  the  pres- 
ence of  excusing  conditions — infancy,  insanity,  paralysis, 
duress,  coercion,  etc. — and  actions  in  which  we  do  not.  We 
then  try  to  formulate  the  principle  we  recognize  in  this  dis- 
tinction and  apply  it  to  more  complicated  and  borderline 
cases.  We  find  that  we  tend  to  hold  individuals  responsible 
for  their  voluntary  or  uncoerced  actions,  for  knowingly  doing 
or  not  doing  what  it  was  in  their  power  to  do  or  leave  undone. 
All  these  terms  are  vague  and  need  further  specification. 
There  are  difficulties  in  ascertaining  in  particular  instances 
what  it  was  in  one's  power  to  do  or  leave  undone.  Nonethe- 
less, no  one  can  live  in  human  society  without  learning  to 
recognize  the  distinction  between  the  actions  he  holds  others 
and  himself  responsible  for  and  the  actions  he  does  not. 

For  all  its  vagueness  there  is  more  agreement  about  how 
the  distinction  is  to  be  applied  than  about  the  grounds  of  the 
distinction.  No  one  blames  a  crawling  infant  who  overturns 
a  kerosene  stove  that  starts  a  fire.  Almost  everybody  would 
blame  a  man  who,  normal  in  every  other  way  and  by  all 
known  tests,  insures  a  house  beyond  its  value  and  then  sets 
fire  to  it  without  even  giving  its  occupants  a  chance  to  escape. 
If  we  make  a  list  of  the  circumstances  behind  actions  for 
which  we  hold  individuals  responsible  and  those  for  which 
we  do  not,  we  shall  find  that  as  a  ruje  the  first  class  consists 
of  those  in  which  evidence  exists  that  praise  and  reward, 
blame  and  punishment,  tend  to  influence  the  future  conduct 

Necessity,  Indetermlnism,  and  Sentimentalism  /    189 

of  those  involved  and/ or  those  tempted.  This  is  not  the  whole 
story.  Campbell  objects  ^  that  animals  are  not  held  responsi- 
ble for  their  actions  even  though  we  can  re-educate  their 
desires  and  impulses  by  punishment.  This  is  true,  but  it  is 
also  true  that  the  higher  the  animal  in  the  scale  of  intelligence, 
the  more  likely  we  are  to  blame  it.  If  we  believed  that  an 
axumal  could  think  like  a  man  we  would  blame  it  like  a  man. 
The  behavior  of  infants,  too,  is  modifiable  by  appropriate 
reward  and  punishment  even  though  we  do  not  hold  them 
morally  responsible.  But  as  the  age  of  rationality  approaches 
we  gradually  do.  This  suggests  that  in  addition  to  suscepti- 
bility to  reward  and  punishment,  we  attribute  responsibiUty 
where  there  is  a  tendency  to  respond  to  valid  reasons,  to 
behave  rationally,  to  respond  to  human  emotions  in  a  human 
way.  Perhaps  a  third  element  involved  in  the  attribution  of 
moral  responsibility  to  voluntary  action  is  the  assumption 
that  volvmtary  action  is  approved  action.  A  man  is  morally 
responsible  for  an  action  he  commits  to  the  extent  that  he 
approves  of  it.  If  he  sincerely  disapproves  of  his  action,  re- 
gards it  as  wrong  and  condemns  it  as  wrong,  but  still  commits 
it  we  tend  to  regard  him  as  ill,  as  acting  under  "compulsion." 
It  is  some  such  consideration  as  this  that  lies  behind  our 
extenuation  of  certain  kinds  of  apparently  voluntary  action 
(as  when  we  say:  "He  didn't  mean  to  do  it"),  especially 
where  igorance  is  present. 

There  may  be  other  elements  involved  in  the  complex 
notion  of  moral  responsibility,  but  the  foregoing  explains  an 
interesting  phenomenological  fact.  Sickness,  accident,  or  in- 
capacity aside,  one  feels  lessened  as  a  human  being  if  one's 
actions  are  always  excused  or  explained  away  on  the  ground 
that  despite  appearances  one  is  really  not  responsible  for 
them.  It  means  being  treated  like  an  object,  an  infant,  or 
someone  out  of  his  mind.  Our  dignity  as  rational  human 
beings  sometimes  leads  us  to  protest,  when  a  zealous  friend 
seeks  to  extenuate  our  conduct  on  the  ground  that  we  were 
not  responsible  (we  didn't  know  or  intend  what  we  were 
doing,  etc.),  that  we  really  are  responsible  and  that  we  are 
prepared  to  take  the  consequences  of  our  responsibility.  As 
bad  as  the  priggishness  of  the  self-righteous  is  the  whine  of 
the  self-pitying. 

The  so-called  "hard"  determinism  professed  by  Professors 
Hospers  and  Edwards,  especially  in  the  popular  form  de- 

^Mind,  1951 

190    /  Determinism  and  Freedom 

fended  by  Darrow,  whom  Edwards  so  extravagantly  praised, 
often  leads  to  sentimentality,  to  so  much  pity  for  the  criminal 
as  a  victim  not  of  a  special  set  of  particular  circumstances  but 
of  any  circumstances  in  general  (referred  to  as  heredity  and 
environment,  the  sway  of  the  law  of  causality)  that  there  is 
not  sufficient  pity  or  concern  left  for  the  criminal's  victims — 
not  only  for  his  past  victims  but  his  future  ones  and  the 
victims  of  others  his  actions  may  inspire.  To  blame  and  to 
punish,  of  course,  are  two  distinct  things  logically  (except 
where  blame  is  considered  a  form  of  punishment),  but  psy- 
chologically there  is  a  great  reluctance  to  punish  if  one  be- 
lieves there  is  no  blame.  Darrow  as  a  "hard"  determinist 
argued  on  a  priori  grounds  that  everyone  was  blameless  and 
often  won  acquittals  not  on  the  evidence  but  despite  it.  If 
needless  pain  and  cruelty  are  evils,  then  punishment  that 
prevents  or  deters  human  beings  from  committing  actions 
likely  to  result  in  much  greater  pain  and  cruelty  than  it  im- 
poses is  sometimes  the  lesser  evil. 

It  is  argued  by  Professor  Edwards  that  "hard"  determin- 
ism, which,  according  to  him,  entails  the  belief  that  no  one  is 
morally  responsible  because  no  one  ultimately  shapes  his  own 
character,  leads  to  the  abandonment  of  retributive  punish- 
ment. Even  if  this  were  so,  it  would  not  make  the  doctrine  of 
"hard"  determinism  any  more  intelligible.  But  historically  it 
is  not  so.  From  Augustine  to  Calvin  to  Barth  the  torment  of 
eternal  damnation  is  assigned  and  approved  independently  of 
moral  responsibility.  It  is  not  related  of  the  oft-quoted  Puritan 
who  piously  observed  to  his  son  when  they  saw  a  man  being 
led  to  the  gallows,  "There  but  for  the  grace  of  God  go  I," 
that  he  opposed  retributive  punishment.  Nor  can  Edwards  con- 
sistently with  his  own  theory  assert  that  "hard"  determinists 
should  repudiate  retributive  punishment,  or  morally  blame 
them  or  anyone  else,  as  he  freely  does,  for  approving  of  retri- 
butive punishment.  For  has  he  not  told  us  that  a  man  can't 
help  having  the  character  he  has,  no  matter  what  kind  of  a 
character  it  is?  Further,  if  retributive  punishment  is  the 
enemy,  there  seems  to  me  to  be  no  necessary  logical  connec- 
tion between  a  belief  in  moral  responsibility  and  approval  of 
retributive  punishment.  Certainly,  "soft"  determinists  who 
assign  responsibility  to  actions  only  when  there  is  reason  to 
believe  that  blame  or  punishment  will  modify  future  conduct 
are  hardly  likely  to  defend  retributive  punishment. 

Why,  after  all,  is  retributive  punishment  evil?  Not  because 
the  wrongdoer  "ultimately  did  not  shape  his  own  character"— 

Necessity,  Indeterminlsm,  and  Sentimentalism  /    191 

whatever  that  may  mean — but  simply  because  the  pain  in- 
flicted on  him  gratuitously  adds  to  the  sum  total  of  suffering 
in  the  world  without  any  compensating  alleviation  of  anybody 
else's  sufferings.  Even  if  an  individual  were  considered  able 
"ultimately  to  shape  his  own  character"  and  were  held  mor- 
ally responsible  for  an  evU  act,  punishment  that  would  be 
purely  retributive  and  that  did  not  contribute  to  deterring  him 
or  others  from  evil  doing,  or  did  nothing  toward  rehabilitating 
him,  would  still  be  morally  wrong.  This  is  quite  evident  in 
situations  in  which  the  "hard"  determinist  who  is  not  a  fatal- 
ist, if  there  be  any  such,  admits  that  a  man  is  to  some  extent, 
not  ultimately  but  proximately,  responsible  for  some  change 
in  his  character — for  example,  when  his  desire  to  gamble 
leads  him  to  steal  a  beggar's  portion.  In  such  situations  retri- 
butive punishment  as  such  would  be  regarded  as  morally 
wrong.  Directed  only  to  the  past,  it  would  not  give  the  beggar 
back  his  portion  or  wipe  out  his  pain,  and  therefore  the  new 
sufferings  it  inflicts  are  futile  and  needlessly  cruel.  If  one  can 
oppose  retributive  punishment  when  one  believes  a  person 
is  proximately  responsible  for  his  action,  one  can  oppose  it 
even  when  one  believes  a  person  is  ultimately  responsible, 
whatever  the  cognitive  content  of  that  belief  turns  out  to  be. 
If  retributive  punishment  is  the  target  of  their  criticism, 
Hospers  and  Edwards  are  training  their  guns  in  the  wrong 

Far  from  diminishing  the  amount  of  needless  cruelty  and 
suffering  in  the  world,  I  am  firmly  convinced  that  the  belief 
that  nobody  is  ever  morally  responsible,  in  addition  to  being 
false,  is  quite  certain  to  have  a  mischievous  effect  and  to  in- 
crease the  amount  of  needless  cruelty  and  suffering.  For  it 
justifies  Smerdyakov's  formula  in  The  Brothers  Karamazov: 
"All  things  are  permissible."  One  of  the  commonest  experi- 
ences is  to  meet  someone  whose  belief  that  he  can't  help  doing 
what  he  is  doing  (or  faihng  to  do)  is  often  an  excuse  for  not 
doing  as  well  as  he  can  or  at  least  better  than  he  is  at  present 
doing.  What  often  passes  as  irremediable  evil  in  this  world, 
or  inevitable  suffering,  is  a  consequence  of  our  failure  to  act 
in  time.  We  are  responsible,  whether  we  admit  it  or  not,  for 
what  it  is  in  our  power  to  do;  and  most  of  the  time  we  can't 
be  sure  what  it  is  in  our  power  to  do  until  we  attempt  it.  In 
spite  of  the  alleged  inevitabilities  in  personal  life  and  history 
human  effort  can  redetermine  the  direction  of  events,  even 
though  it  cannot  determine  the  conditions  that  make  human 
effort  fK>ssibIe.  It  is  time  enough  to  reconcile  oneself  to  a 

192    /  Determimsm  and  Freedom 

secret  shame  or  a  public  tyranny  after  one  has  done  one's  best 
to  overcome  it,  and  even  then  it  isn't  necessary. 

To  say,  as  Professor  Hospers  does,  that  "It's  all  a  matter  of 
luck"  is  no  more  sensible  tiian  saying:  "Nothing  is  a  matter 
of  luck"  —  assuming  "luck"  has  a  meaning  in  a  world  of 
hard  determinism.  It  is  true  that  we  did  not  choose  to  be 
bom.  It  is  also  true  that  we  choose,  most  of  us,  to  keep  on 
living.  It  is  not  true  that  everything  that  happens  to  us  is  like 
"being  struck  down  by  a  dread  disease."  The  treatment  and 
cure  of  disease — ^to  use  an  illustration  that  can  serve  as  a 
moral  paradigm  for  the  whole  human  situation — would  never 
have  begun  unless  we  believed  that  some  things  that  were 
did  not  have  to  be,  that  they  could  be  different,  and  that  we 
could  make  them  different.  And  what  we  can  make  different 
we  are  responsible  for. 

Chapter  9 

PurBBshmenf  as  Jystiee  and  @s  Friee; 

Abba  Lerner,  Roosevelt  College 


Regarding  the  problem  of  personal  responsibility,  it  seems 
to  me  that  Professor  Edwards'  argument,  with  which  I  am 
in  close  agreement,  does  not  really  depend  on  a  demonstra- 
tion that  nobody  makes  his  own  character  any  more  than  it 
depends  on  the  arguments  and  examples  brought  forth  by  Pro- 
fessor Hospers  on  the  importance  of  subconscious  drives  and 
compulsions  in  criminal  activity.  Professor  Edwards'  position 
really  seems  to  rest  on  the  rejection  of  the  axiom  that  it  is 
desirable  or  just  that  a  person  who  has  committed  a  crime 
should  be  made  to  suffer.  This  axiom  does  not  depend  at  all 
on  who,  if  anyone,  is  responsible  for  the  bad  character  of  the 
bad  man  who  performs  the  bad  act.  There  is  thus  no  sug- 
gestion that  he  should  be  punished  for  having  a  bad  character 
if  he  did  not  commit  the  crime  or  even  for  having  chosen  to 
have  the  bad  character  or  to  make  it  for  himself.  If  making 
a  bad  character  is  a  crime  in  itself  that  is  another  crime.  It 
may  raise  the  question  whether  whoever  was  responsible  for 
making  the  bad  character  should  be  punished  for  it,  but  that 
is  a  different  question.  The  rejection  of  the  axiom  that  crime 
must  be  atoned  by  the  suffering  of  punishment  leaves  punish- 
ment without  justification  unless  some  other  justification  is 
found,  such  as  the  protection  of  society  through  the  provision 
of  a  deterrent  to  antisocial  behavior.  The  history  of  how  the 
criminal  became  a  bad  man  is  then  irrelevant,  even  though  it 
may  induce  jurors  to  direct  acquittals.  The  relating  of  such 
history  does  not  constitute  a  logical  argument  against  carrying 
out  any  particular  punishment,  but  it  may  lead  to  the  reieclion 
of  the  axiom  that  justice  is  done  when  crime  is  balanced  by 
the  suffering  of  punishment. 


I  should  like  to  comment  on  Professor  Hart's  treatment  of 
the  conditions  for  excusing  punishment  on  the  same  footing 


194    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

as  conditions  for  the  invalidation  of  contracts,  as  if  punish- 
ment were  a  price.  His  argument  is  that  it  is  good  to  be  able 
to  measure  the  punishment  against  the  satisfaction  one  may 
get  from  committing  a  crime.  This  increases  freedom  by  per- 
mitting the  exercise  of  rational  choice  in  committing  the  crime 
only  where  the  satisfaction  is  greater  than  the  punishment- 
price.  Any  contract-crime  not  freely  and  responsibly  entered 
into  is  then  invalidated  and  the  price-punishment  is  canceled. 

I  was  particularly  interested  in  this  because  I  have  been 
doing  almost  exactly  the  opposite  in  economics — not  treating 
punishment  as  a  price,  but  treating  price  as  a  punishment. 
The  price  of  a  commodity  is  a  deterrent  to  the  consumer;  it 
deters  him  from  consuming  the  product.  Ideally,  the  magni- 
tude of  the  price  should  correspond  to  the  amount  of  damage 
that  the  consumer  does  to  the  rest  of  society  by  consuming 
the  product  and  thereby  making  it  unavailable  for  others  to 
consume.  The  individual  will  then  choose  to  consume  if  the 
satisfaction  he  gets  is  greater  than  the  price  and  therefore 
greater  than  the  loss  to  the  rest  of  society.  And  since  by  the 
payment  of  the  price  he  completely  compensates  the  rest  of 
society,  society  as  a  whole  (including  our  consumer)  benefits 
from  his  decision  to  commit  the  consumption.  Furthermore, 
the  complete  compensation  of  the  rest  of  society  (by  the  price 
that  he  pays)  leaves  it  without  reason  for  wishing  to  interfere 
with  his  freedom  of  choice.  The  proper  price,  therefore,  leads 
to  the  maximization  of  welfare  and  of  freedom. 

This  kind  of  maximization  does  not,  however,  apply  to  the 
punishment  of  crime  because  the  suffering  of  the  punished 
criminal  is  not  balanced  by  a  benefit  to  the  rest  of  society 
(except  where  the  punishment  takes  the  form  of  a  money 
fine  and  does  operate  just  like  a  price).  The  committing  of  a 
crime  does  not  mean  that  society  as  a  whole  (including  our 
criminal)  benefits.  Even  if  the  criminal  enjoys  a  net  benefit 
after  punishment,  his  punishment  does  not  compensate  the 
rest  of  society  for  the  damage  done  them  by  the  crime.  On 
the  contrary,  the  rest  of  society  suffers  further  losses  from  the 
costs  involved  in  providing  justice  and  keeping  the  man  in 
prison.  In  the  case  of  the  price  mechanism,  if  the  consumer 
decides  to  consume  the  commodity  and  suffer  the  purchase 
price,  the  price  system  is  performing  its  function  of  ensuring 
maximum  welfare  and  freedom  perfectly.  But  if  the  criminal 
decides  to  commit  the  crime  and  then  pay  the  punishment,  the 
punishment  system  has  failed  in  its  function  of  preventing  the 

Punishment  as  Justice  and  as  Price;  On  Randomness    /     195 


A  point  that  intrigued  me  particularly  was  Professor 
Lande's  treatment  of  randomness.  His  argument  seemed  based 
on  the  idea  that  a  random  distribution  is  a  special  kind  of 
order  that  in  a  determinate  universe  must  have  been  planned 
by  some  demon.  The  question  that  remains  is  only  whether 
there  is  a  demon  operating  at  every  point  where  an  apparently 
random  distribution  exists — or  perhaps  in  every  subatomic 
particle — or  whether  there  was  some  superdemon  who  ar- 
ranged all  these  random  distributions  at  the  creation.  I  don't 
find  myself  tempted  by  either  form  of  demonology  because  I 
have  always  thought  of  random  distribution  as  precisely  the 
opposite  of  order,  on  the  assumption  that  randomness  is  the 
mark  of  the  absence  of  order  and  that  as  long  as  any  distribu- 
tion is  random  no  amount  of  study  or  observation  of  it  will 
give  any  information  as  to  the  probabilities  of  the  next  throw. 
But  I  am  not  very  happy  about  my  position.  I  think  I  should 
look  into  the  philosophical  and  perhaps  mathematical  treat- 
ments of  randomness  to  see  if  what  I  am  saying  does  not 
involve  an  elementary  blimder. 

Chapter   10 

Some   Notes   on   Determinism 

Ernest  Nagel,  Columbia  University 

Whether  the  occurrence  of  every  discriminable  event  is 
determined,  whether  for  every  event  there  is  a  unique  set  of 

,;  conditions  without  whose  presence  the  event  would  not  take 
7  tplace,  and  whether  if  conditions  of  a  specified  kind  are  given 
an  event  of  a  certain  type  will  invariably  happen,  are  variant 
forms  of  a  question  that  cannot  be  settled  by  a  priori  argu- 
ments. Nor  do  I  think  the  questions  can  be  answered  defini- 

■tively  and  finally,  even  on  the  basis  of  factual  evidence;  for, 

f  as  I  shall  presently  suggest,  the  question  is  best  construed  as 
dealing  with  a  rule  of  procedure  for  the  conduct  of  cognitive 

^  inquiry,  rather  than  with  a  thesis  concerning  the  constitution 
of  the  world.  I  am  therefore  not  convinced  by  Professor 
Blanshard's  acute  argument  attempting  to  show  that  an  an- 
swer to  the  question  other  than  an  affirmative  one  is  indefen- 
sible, if  not  unintelligible.  Moreover,  his  assertion  that  even  in 
deductive  thinking  and  artistic  invention  each  step  is  neces- 
sitated by  the  logical  and  the  aesthetic  relations  that  exercise  a 
power  over  the  mind  seems  to  me  untenable — if  it  is  admitted 
as  relevant  to  his  major  contention.  For  his  assumption  that 
logical  and  aesthetic  relations  (as  distinct  from  apprehensions 
of  such  relations)  may  be  said  to  engage  in  causal  action  at- 
tributes causal  efficacy  to  something  that,  in  no  recognizable 
and  identifiable  sense  of  the  phrase,  can  exercise  such  agency. 
Nevertheless,  the  belief  in  determinism  is  not  unfounded; 
and  it  would  be  just  silly  to  maintain  that  in  no  area  of  experi- 
ence can  we  rightly  affirm  that  anything  is  caused  or  deter- 
mined by  anything  else.  It  seems  to  me  the  special  merit  of 
Professor  Black's  paper  that  it  indicated  at  least  one  identifi- 
able class  of  contexts  in  which  the  words  "caused,"  "deter- 
mined," and  their  derivates  have  an  unquestionable  and  im- 
portant use.  In  these  contexts  involving  human  action  it  is 
simply  nonsense  to  deny  that  events  have  causes  or  effects,  in 
senses  of  these  words  appropriate  to  these  contexts.  Black  has 
also  made  plain  that  the  conditions  under  which  "caused"  and 
"determined"  have  significant  uses,  in  those  situations  where 
men  initiate  actions  and  are  responsible  for  the  occurrence  of 


Some  Notes  on  Determinism    /     197 

events,  require  the  presence  of  identifiable  contingencies  and 
the  absence  of  just  such  "necessities"  as  those  for  which 
Blanshard  argues. 

But  it  does  not  follow  from  Black's  analysis  that  the  only 
sense  that  can  be  attached  to  "cause"  and  "determined"  is  the 
sense  they  manifestly  do  have  in  the  indicated  contexts — any 
more  than  it  follows  that,  because  the  word  "number"  is  un- 
doubtedly used  in  situations  involving  the  counting  of  objects, 
the  meaning  of  the  word  in  statements  about  such  irrational 
magnitudes  as  the  area  of  a  circle  with  a  unit  radius  must  also 
involve  reference  to  counting.  There  are,  to  be  sure,  historical 
continuities  and  important  analogies  between  the  use  of  these 
words  in  contexts  of  human  action  and  their  use  in  discussions 
about,  say,  the  "indeterminism '  of  electrons.  But  it  is  patently 
a  mistake  to  construe  the  meanings  of  those  words  in  this 
latter  context  in  terms  of  the  "paradigm"'  for  their  use  in  situa- 
tions where  men  are  correctly  identified  as  causal  agents.  Al- 
though Black  does  not  explicitly  guard  himself  against  the 
suspicion  that  he  does  take  his  paradigm  as  basic  for  all  uses 
of  "caused,"  it  is  unlikely  that  he  would  commit  himself  to 
such  as  position.  On  the  other  hand,  it  does  seem  to  me  that 
Professor  Bridgman  (and  perhaps  even  Professor  Lande) 
commits  a  somewhat  similar  mistake  when  he  suggests  that 
the  "indeterminacy"  of  quantum  theory  can  be  explicated  in 
terms  of  familiar  facts  "in  the  sphere  of  ordinary  life." 

In  the  voluminous  literature  on  the  "indeterminism"  of 
microphysics,  one  point  stands  out  clearly:  whatever  the  issue 
may  be,  it  is  generated  by  the  theoretical  interpretations  that 
are  placed  on  the  acknowledged  data  rather  than  by  any  dis- 
agreement as  to  what  those  data  are.  Thus  no  one  disputes 
that  when  a  beam  of  light  passes  through  appropriately  ar- 
ranged slits  and  strikes  a  zinc  sulphide  screen,  scintillations  oc- 
cur that  fall  into  a  definite  pattern;  or  that  quantum  theory 
accounts  for  the  occurrence  of  each  individual  scintillation. 
Problems  arise,  however,  when  the  structure  of  quantum 
theory  is  analyzed  with  a  view  to  showing  why  it  is  that  this 
theory  cannot  account  for  individual  scintillations.  But  the 
problems  are  generated  because  answers  to  the  questions  are 
proposed  in  terms  of  familiar  facts  "in  the  sphere  of  ordinary 
life"  rather  than  in  terms  of  the  structure  of  the  theory  itself. 

It  is  a  commonplace  that  quantum  theory  employs  a  dis- 
tinctive way  of  "describing"  the  state  of  a  physical  system 
with  which  the  theory  can  deal.  This  state  description  (the  psi 
function)  is  such  that,  given  its  value  for  some  initial  time,  and 

198    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

assuming  an  appropriate  set  of  boundary  conditions  for  the 
application  of  the  theory,  the  theory  makes  it  possible  to  cal- 
culate the  value  of  the  function  for  any  other  time.  In  this 
respect  quantum  theory  is  as  "deterministic"  as  are  the  dy- 
namical theories  of  classical  physics.  It  differs  from  these  in 
that,  while  the  state  description  of  the  latter  can  be  construed 
as  representing  magnitudes  associated  with  certain  individual 
elements  that  constitute  the  physical  systems  in  question,  its 
state  function  can  be  construed  as  representing  only  a  statisti- 
cal property  of  the  individual  elements  making  up  the  physical 
system.  In  short,  the  state  description  of  quantum  theory  is  a 
statistical  parameter  So  far  nothing  could  be  more  straight- 
forward or  less  puzzling.  The  puzzle  begms  when  reasons  are 
offered  why  the  state  function  of  quantum  mechanics  is  a 
statistical  parameter. 

The  reason  Professor  Land6  appears  to  give  is  that  any 
given  value  assigned  to  the  psi  function  constitutes  the  initial 
conditions  for  the  application  of  the  theory  to  a  concrete  situ- 
ation, and  that  since  initial  conditions  constitute  a  brute  and 
underived  fact  they  represent  an  inherently  chance  or  random 
feature  of  the  world  I  doubt  very  much  whether  I  have  under- 
stood Professor  Land^'s  presentation  of  his  views,  and  my 
comments  may  be  entirely  irrelevant  to  his  real  intent.  But  as 
I  understand  him,  he  has  not  made  clear  what  he  set  out  to 
clarify.  For  every  theory — not  only  quantum  mechanics — 
requires  initial  conditions  that  at  some  point  or  other  in  an 
investigation  into  concrete  subject  matter  must  be  accepted  as 
underived  and  therefore  as  representative  of  a  "random"  fea- 
ture of  the  world,  as  are  the  initial  conditions  for  quantum 
theory.  This  attempt  to  assimilate  the  "indeterminacy"  of 
microphysics  to  facts  "in  the  sphere  of  ordinary  life"  is  not  a 
successful  one. 

Professor  Bridgman  seeks  to  explain  the  statistical  aspect 
of  the  psi  function  by  invoking  the  general  principle  that 
whenever  measurements  are  made  the  instruments  employed 
interact  with  the  things  measured  and  thereby  introduce 
changes  into  the  latter.  His  contention  is  that,  although  such 
alterations  are  practically  negligible  when  we  measure  things 
that  are  sufficiently  large,  the  changes  cannot  be  ignored  when 
the  minute  "particles"  of  microphysics  are  measured  with  the 
relatively  large  instruments  at  our  disposal,  so  that  the  psi 
function  inevitably  represents  only  statistically  significant 
magnitudes  associated  with  the  elementary  particles  of  quan 
turn  physics.  Now,  the  general  principle  Professor  Bridgman 

Some  Notes  on  Determinism    /     199 

invokes  is  undoubtedly  sound.  The  difficulty  in  his  explana- 
tion, however,  is  that  though  the  principle  is  sound  it  does  not, 
in  other  areas  of  inquiry,  prevent  us  from  calculating  the 
effects  of  measuring  instruments  on  the  things  measured  and 
so  making  corresponding  allowances  in  assigning  magnitudes 
to  the  objects  under  investigation.  Why  should  the  situation  be 
inherently  different  in  quantum  physics?  I  find  it  difficult  to 
escape  the  impression  that  Professor  Bridgman  has  put  the 
cart  before  the  horse.  For  it  seems  to  me  that  the  alleged  effect 
of  measurement  on  microphysical  "particles"  must  be  as- 
sumed as  at  best  a  consequence  that  follows  from  the  accept- 
ance of  quantum  theory,  rather  than  that  the  theory  is  based 
on  independently  ascertained  facts  concerning  the  alterations 
made  by  instruments  of  measurement  on  microphysical  "par- 
ticles." At  any  rate,  I  do  not  think  Professor  Bridgman  has 
convincingly  shown  that  the  "indeterminism"  inherent  in  the 
structure  of  quantum  theory  is  but  another  illustration  of  a 
familiar  feature  "in  the  sphere  of  ordinary  life." 

Although  quantum  theory  is  not  deterministic  in  the  precise 
sense  in  which  the  dynamical  theories  of  classical  physics  are 
deterministic,  and  although  quantum  theory  (or,  for  that 
matter,  any  other  available  theory  of  contemporary  physics) 
does  not  account  in  detail  for  such  occurrences  as  the  individ- 
ual scintillations  mentioned  previously,  it  of  course  does  not 
follow  that  there  really  are  no  precise  conditions  for  the  oc- 
currence of  those  events  that  quantum  mechanics  does  not 
explain,  or  that  a  theory  that  can  account  for  these  things  is 
impossible.  The  assumption  that  there  always  are  such  precise 
conditions  for  every  event,  even  if  we  continue  to  remain 
permanently  ignorant  of  them,  is  the  assumption  of  a  uni- 
versal determinism.  As  I  have  already  indicated,  determinism 
so  understood  is  capable  neither  of  decisive  proof  nor  dis- 
proof. I  think,  nevertheless,  that  determinism  can  be  regarded 
as  a  fruitful  maxim  or  regulative  principle  for  inquiry.  It 
does  not  express  a  necessity  of  thought,  for  it  can  be  aban- 
doned. But  if  it  is  abandoned,  then  inquiry  in  certain  direc- 
tions is,  at  least  temporarily,  brought  to  a  halt.  In  an  impor- 
tant sense,  therefore,  the  deterministic  maxim  is  explicative  of 
what  is  generally  understood  to  be  a  goal  of  the  scientific 

I  want  to  conclude  with  a  brief  comment  on  the  contention 
of  Professor  Edwards  and  Hospers  that,  if  determinism  sup- 
plies a  true  account  of  the  nature  of  things,  it  does  not  make 
sense  to  hold  anyone  morally  responsible  for  his  actions  or  to 

200    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

offer  moral  praise  and  blame.  Under  what  conditions  do  we 
hold  a  person  morally  responsible  for  an  action?  Consider  an 
example.  I  engage  the  services  of  a  student  as  baby  sitter  on 
the  assumption  that  she  is  capable  of  doing  certain  things.  Her 
ability  to  do  them  depends  on  a  number  of  conditions,  includ- 
ing the  state  of  her  body,  her  education,  and  her  previous 
experience  with  children  of  a  certain  age.  If  she  does  indeed 
satisfy  these  conditions  and  also  agrees  to  perform  certain 
tasks  that  are  compatible  with  her  abilities,  she  is  morally 
responsible  for  performing  them.  The  fact  that  she  did  not 
create  her  own  body,  or  that  she  did  not  choose  the  education 
she  received,  are  not  relevant  considerations  for  judging 
whether  she  is  morally  responsible  for  some  event  that  may 
take  place  during  my  absence  from  home.  On  the  other  hand, 
if  during  my  absence  burglars  enter  and  tie  up  the  student,  or 
if  she  becomes  unconscious  for  causes  not  within  her  control, 
she  is  not  morally  responsible  for  what  may  befall  my  chil- 
dren. The  point  is  obvious.  Moral  responsibility  is  correctly 
ascribed  to  individuals  who  possess  certain  capacities;  and  it  is 
correct  to  make  the  ascription  for  the  sufficient  reason  that 
this  is  just  the  way  the  phrase  "morally  responsible"  is  used. 
The  fact  that  possessing  these  capacities  is  contingent  on  a 
variety  of  conditions,  most  of  which  are  perhaps  beyond  the 
control  of  an  individual,  is  irrelevant  to  the  analysis  of  what 
we  do  mean  by  the  phrase  as  well  as  to  the  grounds  on  which 
the  ascription  is  rightly  made.  To  maintain  the  contrary  is  in 
effect  to  maintain  that  no  property  can  be  correctly  predicated 
of  an  object  if  the  property  is  causally  dependent  on  anything 
either  in  the  composition  or  in  the  evironment  of  the  object. 
Such  a  view  makes  all  predication  impossible.  But  in  any 
event  Professor  Edwards  and  Hospers  can  sustain  their  thesis 
only  by  radically  altering  the  customary  conception  of  what 
it  means  for  anyone  to  be  morally  responsible. 

Chapter   1 1 

Causation,   Def©rminism,  and 

the   ''G9@d'' 

F.  S.  C.  Northrop,  School  of  Law,  Yale  University 

Professor  Bridgman  has  suggested  that  there  is  much  more 
agreement  among  physicists  concerning  the  status  of  the  con- 
cept of  causality  in  quantum  mechanics  than  appears  super- 
ficially from  quotations  pulled  out  of  context.  There  are  rea- 
sons for  believing  that  this  agreement  is  more  unanimous  even 
than  Professor  Bridgman  has  indicated. 

One  difficulty  is  that  mechanical  causation  in  modem 
physics  has  a  stronger  and  a  weaker  meaning,  and  as  yet  there 
is  no  convention  among  physicists  and  informed  philosophers 
of  science  as  to  which  of  these  two  meanings  the  expression 
"mechanical  causation"  is  to  have.  Some  physicists  use  these 
words  in  the  stronger  sense,  others  in  the  weaker  sense.  Since 
with  respect  to  quantxmi  mechanics  what  holds  for  the  weaker 
meaning  does  not  hold  for  the  stronger  meaning,  physicists 
often  appear  to  differ  about  the  status  of  causality  in  quantum 
mechanics,  when  in  fact  there  is  complete  agreement.  Fur- 
thermore, there  was  no  difference  of  opinion  between  Einstein 
and  quantum  physicists  concerning  the  status  of  mechanical 
causality  and  determinism  in  quantum  mechanics.  It  is  pre- 
cisely because  Einstein  agreed  with  them  about  what  the 
theory  requires  that  he  objected  to  quantum  theory.  It  can  be 
shown,  however,  that  according  to  Einstein's  own  theory  of 
the  relation  between  theoretical  concepts  and  experimental 
evidence,  his  objection  is  untenable.  The  situation  becomes 
clear  when  the  weaker  and  stronger  meanings  of  mechanical 
causality  are  precisely  defined.  As  understood  by  physicists, 
determinism  is  equivalent  to  the  stronger  of  the  two  types  of 
mechanical  causation.  This  is  probably  also  what  a  man  with 
common-sense  knowledge  means  by  determinism,  even  though 
he  is  rarely,  if  ever,  clear  about  what  this  meaning  is. 

In  the  paradigm  that  marked  Professor  Black's  approach  to 
the  problem  of  determinism,  by  the  method  of  contemporary 
British  analytic  philosophy,  common  sense  was  again  fol- 


202    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

lowed.  In  order  to  relate  his  conclusions  to  the  concept  of 
determinism  as  understood  in  mathematical  physics,  two 
things  must  be  noted:  (1)  the  ambiguities  in  his  paradigm 
and  in  the  method  of  British  analytic  philosophy  generally; 
(2)  the  difference  between  the  definition  of  cause  in  his  para- 
digm and  the  concept  of  cause  in  mathematical  physics. 

The  ambiguities  of  Professor  Black's  paradigm,  as  of  Brit- 
ish philosophical  analysis  generally,  arise  from  the  fact  that 
such  philosophical  analysis,  so-called,  never  makes  explicit 
which  one  of  several  possible  epistemological  meanings  the 
words  convey  in  the  common-sense  contexts.  The  result  is  a 
surreptitious  shift  from  assertions  true  for  only  one  possible 
epistemological  meaning  to  conclusions  valid,  if  at  all,  only 
for  different  epistemological  meanings.  As  a  result,  British 
analytic  philosophy  confuses  more  than  it  clarifies,  as  the  fol- 
lowing analysis  of  Professor  Black's  paradigm  shows. 

In  the  sense  in  which  this  paradigm  "stands  on  its  own 
feet,"  as  Professor  Black  maintained  it  did,  it  must  be  taken 
in  its  radical  empirical,  nominalistic  meaning.  But  in  this 
sense,  as  Hume  showed,  there  is  merely  temporal  succession 
and  no  relation  of  necessary  connection,  or  causality,  of  any 
kind.  Professor  Goodman's  remark  that  causality  is  a  tautol- 
ogy is  interesting  in  this  connection.  It  is  the  inevitable  con- 
sequence of  any  attempt,  after  the  manner  of  Professors 
Quine  and  Goodman,  to  rear  mathematics  and  mathematical 
physics  on  nothing  but  nominalistic,  radical  empirical  epis- 
temological meanings.  Then  not  merely  mechanical  causality 
in  either  the  weaker  or  the  stronger  form — to  be  defined  in  the 
sequel  —  but  most  of  the  other  concepts  of  mathematical 
physics  become  similarly  either  meaningless  or  trivial. 

When  one  takes  Professor  Black's  paradigm  in  its  naive 
realistic  epistemological  meaning,  as  he  suggests  in  using  the 
word  "object"  and  conceiving  of  causality  as  a  relation  be- 
tween objects,  then,  to  be  sure,  perhaps  a  bit  more  than 
Hume's  mere  temporal  succession  is  obtained,  but  in  this  case, 
as  Professor  Weiss  points  out,  the  paradigm  does  not  stand  on 
its  own  feet,  and  the  conclusion  Professor  Black  draws  about 
the  compatibility  of  determinism  and  freedom  fails  to  fol- 
low. Certainly,  interpreted  as  naive  realistic  epistemological 
material  objects,  the  things  described  by  the  paradigm  may 
well  be  subject  to  mechanically  antecedent  causes. 

The  latter  consideration  suggests  that  the  paradigm  becomes 
relevant  to  the  problem  of  causality — to  say  nothing  about  its 
relation  to  mechanically  causal  determinism — only  if  a  third 

Causation,  Determinism,  and  the  "Good"    /    203 

surreptitious  epistemological  shift  occurs  in  the  interpretation 
of  it,  in  which  the  person  who  "causes  something  to  happen" 
is  not  viewed  from  without  but  is  instead  viewed  as  purpose- 
fully acting  from  within.  But  again,  if  this  is  the  meaning,  the 
causality  is  teleological,  and  the  difficulties  raised  by  the 
mechanically  causal  determinism  of  modern  physics  are  not 
touched.  Furthermore,  if  the  causality  is  purposeful  and  teleo- 
logical, may  not  the  individual's  choice  of  this  purpose  have 
been  mechanically  determined?  Again  we  see  that  so  far  as 
the  paradigm  has  any  relevance  to  the  problem  of  determin- 
ism it  does  not  stand  on  its  own  feet.  Like  British  philosophi- 
cal analysis  generally,  the  so-called  clarification  of  the  prob- 
lem of  determinism  that  Professor  Black's  common-sense 
paradigm  is  supposed  to  give  is  so  shot  through  with  epistemo- 
logical ambiguities  and  surreptitious  shifts  in  the  epistemo- 
logical meanings  of  the  words  used  that  it  is,  like  this  method 
generally,  philosophically  useless. 

In  any  event.  Professor  Black  doesn't  touch  the  problem  of 
determinism,  which  arises  only  when  one  thinks  of  causality 
as  modern  physicists  do:  not,  after  the  manner  of  Professor 
Black,  as  a  relation  between  objects  but  as  the  relation  be- 
tween the  states  of  the  same  object,  or  the  same  system  of  ob- 
jects, at  different  times.  Mechanical  causation  affirms,  in  either 
its  weaker  or  its  stronger  meaning,  that  this  temporal  relation, 
between  the  states  of  a  system  at  different  times  is  a  relation/ 
of  necessary  connection. 

Since,  as  Hume  showed,  we  do  not  observe  any  relations  of 
necessary  connection,  two  things  foUow:  (1)  The  concept  of 
mechanical  causation  in  modern  physics  cannot  be  attained 
merely  by  direct  inspection  of  a  common-sense  example  or 
by  so-called  "analysis"  of  the  grammar  of  an  Englishman's 
description  of  such  an  example;  only  temporal  succession  wUl 
be  found  by  such  a  method.  (2)  Physical  systems  obeying 
mechanical  causation  can  therefore  be  known  only  by  deduc- 
tively formulated,  axiomatically  constructed,  indirectly  veri- 
fied theory.  To  determine,  therefore,  what  the  status  of 
mechanical  causality  is  in  modem  physics,  one  must  do  more 
than  examine  the  inductive,  radically  empirical  sensible  opera- 
tions— important  as  these  are — ^by  means  of  which  the  specu- 
latively proposed,  axiomatically  constructed  theory  is  verified 
indirectly.  This  type  of  examination  will  give  one  merely 
operational,  theory-of-errors  probability,  which  is  present  in 
any  experimental  testing  of  any  theory  and  hence  is  quite  in- 
sufficient to  distinguish  quantum  mechanics  from  previous 

204    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

modern  physics  with  respect  to  the  status  of  mechanical  cau- 
sation and,  more  particularly,  its  stronger  form,  determinism. 
Operational  probability  enters  into  all  scientific  theory.  This 
type  of  probability  and  chance  is  frequently  referred  to  as 
epistemological  probability  and  chance,  since  it  has  its  basis 
in  the  finiteness  and  errors  that  accompany  the  scientist's 
attempt  to  relate  himself  in  knowledge  to  the  object.  To  under- 
stand the  unique  conclusion  of  quantum  mechanics  with 
respect  to  mechanical  causation  and  its  stronger  form,  deter- 
minism, one  must  concentrate  attention  on  the  speculatively 
introduced,  axiomatically  constructed  postulates  of  the  modern 
theories  of  mathematical  physics,  with  particular  reference  to 
the  presence  or  absence  of  the  concept  of  theoretical  probabil- 
ity— i.e.,  probability  introduced  in  principle — in  the  postu- 
lates. Since  such  probability,  if  it  occurs,  refers  to  the  object 
\  of  scientific  knowledge,  it  is  appropriately  called  ontological 
probability  or  chance. 

Two  factors  in  any  deductively  formulated  theory  of 
modern  physics  must  command  the  focus  of  one's  attention. 
These  two  factors  are  (1)  the  definition  of  the  state  of  the 
system  at  any  given  moment  of  time  and  (2)  the  definition  of 
the  time  relation  between  states  of  the  system  at  different 

Let  us  concentrate  on  the  latter  relation  first.  There  are 
three  major  possibilities.  One  is  instanced  by  any  merely  in- 
ductive empirical  observations  of  the  changes  of  the  system 
through  time  without  any  speculatively  introduced,  axiomati- 
cally constructed  theory.  By  plotting  these  changes  from  the 
earlier  to  the  later  state  of  the  system,  a  curve  can  be  ob- 
tained. For  every  curve,  as  Professor  Philip  Frank  and  others 
have  noted,  there  is  a  formula  or  law.  Such  lawfully  defined 
relation  between  the  earlier  and  later  states  of  a  system  is  not, 
however,  regarded  by  modem  physicists  as  constituting  a 
truly  mechanically  causal  system.  The  reason  for  this  conclu- 
sion is  that  such  a  law  or  formula  cannot  be  given  until  after 
one  has  seen  the  system  pass  from  its  earlier  to  its  later  state. 
Thus  it  has  no  predictive  power.  As  Professor  Frank  noted,  it 
merely  affirms  that  what  happens  happens  and  in  this  sense, 
again,  is  little  more  than  a  trivial  tautology  so  far  as  causality 
is  concerned. 

There  is  a  second  possibility  with  respect  to  the  nature  of 
the  time  relation  between  states  of  an  isolated  system.  The 
relation  may  be  one  of  necessary  connection  characterized 
by  a  repetition  of  constant  time  relations  that  hold  true  not 

Causation,  Determinism,  and  the  "Good"    /    205 

merely  for  past  and  present  but  also  for  future  cases;  but  it 
is  a  relation  such  that  in  any  first  observed  instance,  given  the 
initial  state  of  the  system,  one  cannot  predict  the  future  state 
until  one  has  observed  the  present  state  passing  into  the  future 
or  final  state  in  at  least  one  instance.  The  physical  system  in 
which  the  initial  state  is  that  of  the  acorn  and  the  final  state 
that  of  the  oak  constitutes  an  example.  Such  a  relation  of 
necessary  connection,  since  a  knowledge  for  prediction  of 
future  states  of  the  system  depends  on  a  knowledge  of  what 
the  future  state  is,  is  called  teleological  causality. 

There  is  a  third  possible  form  that  the  time  relation  between 
the  states  of  a  scientifically  determined  system  may  possess. 
In  this  third  type,  as  in  the  second,  the  relation  is  one  of 
necessary  connection,  but  the  relation  of  necessary  connection 
has  the  following  properties:  (1)  There  exists  a  speculatively 
introduced,  axiomatically  constructed  set  of  postulates  of  an 
indirectly  and  experimentally  confirmed,  deductively  formu- 
lated theory.  (2)  The  postulates  of  this  theory  specify  a  very 
small  number  of  independent  variables  necessary  and  suffici- 
ent to  define  completely  the  state  of  a  system  at  any  specific 
moment  of  time  /^.  (3)  Given  the  operationally  determined, 
concept-by-intuition  values  of  the  independent  variables  of 
this  definition  of  the  state  of  the  system  at  an  earlier  time  /^, 
(a)  all  the  other  properties  of  the  system  at  that  time  ?j  can 
be  deduced,  and  (b),  without  any  observation  in  a  present  or 
past  instance  of  the  future  state  of  a  similar  system,  the  em- 
pirical values  of  the  independent  variables  of  the  physical 
system  at  the  later  time  t^  can  be  deduced  by  solving  a  second- 
order  differential  equation  that  the  postulates  and  theorems 
of  the  theory  provide.  When  the  foregoing  conditions  are  satis- 
fied, the  causality  of  the  system,  i.e.,  the  relation  of  necessary 
connection  between  the  states  of  the  system  at  different  times, 
is  mechanical  causality  in  the  forementioned  weaker  meaning 
of  this  term.  More  concretely,  this  means  that  the  deductively 
formulated  theory  provides  a  time  equation  such  that,  by  feed- 
ing the  operationally  determined  empirical  values  of  the  con- 
cept-by-postulation,  theoretically  introduced  independent  vari- 
ables of  the  state  function  into  the  equation,  the  values  of 
these  variables  for  a  specific  later  time  t^  are  completely  deter- 
mined by  solving  the  equation  for  that  time  t^. 

Note  that  causality  in  this  sense  is  not  a  trivial  tautology. 
It  is,  instead,  a  relation  of  necessary  connection  such  that, 
given  the  postulates  of  the  theoryand  given  the  determination 
of  the  independent  variables  in  any  present  state  of  the  sys- 

206    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

tern,  a  completely  novel  future  state,  never  before  observed  in 
any  past  instance,  can  be  deduced.  Furthermore,  a  large  num- 
ber of  other  properties  of  the  system  in  the  initial  state  and 
in  the  final  state  can  also  be  deduced. 

What  is  the  role  of  the  foregoing  type  of  mechanical  caus- 
ality in  the  weaker  meaning  of  these  two  words  in  any  theory 
jof  modern  physics  in  which  such  a  relation  of  necessary  con- 
nection between  the  earlier  and  later  states  of  a  system  is  pres- 
jent?  The  answer  to  this  question  is  unequivocal.  In  the  postu- 
i.lates  of  the  theory  the  concept  of  probability  does  not  enter 
into  the  definition  of  the  time  relation  between  the  states  of 
any  system.  The  first  important  thing  to  note  about  quantum 
mechanics  is  that,  as  for  Newton's  mechanics,  Maxwell's 
electromagnetics,  and  Einstein's  special  and  general  theories 
of  relativity,  mechanical  causality  in  the  weaker  meaning 
holds.  This  is  the  case  for  two  reasons:  First,  the  concept  of 
theoretical  probability  does  not  enter  into  its  definition  of  the 
time  relation  between  the  states  of  a  subatomic  physical  sys- 
tem. Second,  it  provides  the  Schrodinger  time  equation,  which 
has  the  aforementioned  property  of  enabling  one,  given  the 
operationally  determined  empirical  values  of  the  present  state 
of  the  system  as  defined  by  the  theory,  to  deduce  the  future 
state  of  the  system,  as  so  defined,  at  any  specified  later  time  t^ 
merely  by  solving  this  equation. 

But  if  mechanical  causation  in  the  weaker  meaning  of  the 
words  holds  for  quantum  mechanics  just  as  it  did  for  New- 
ton's mechanics,  Maxwell's  electromagentics,  and  Einstein's 
special  and  general  theories  of  relativity,  why,  then,  has  it 
been  affirmed  by  physicists  that  quantum  mechanics  alters  the 
status  of  causality — and  more  particularly  of  determinism — 
in  modern  physics?  The  answer  to  this  question  will  become 
clear  if  one  shifts  attention  from  the  definition  of  the  time 
relation  between  states  to  the  definition  of  state  in  the  mod- 
ern theories.  The  novelty  of  quantum  mechanics  consists  in 
this,  and  solely  in  this,  that  theoretically,  and  hence  in  prin- 
ciple, it  has  found  it  necessary  in  order  to  account  for  the 
experimental  data  to  introduce  the  concept  of  theoretical 
probability  into  the  definition  of  state  of  a  subatomic  physical 
system.  In  Newton's  mechanics,  Maxwell's  electromagnetics, 
and  Einstein's  special  and  general  theories  of  relativity,  the 
concept  of  theoretical  probability  was  not  introduced  either 
into  the  definition  of  state  or  into  the  definition  of  the  time 
relation  between  states.  Hence  in  these  four  theories  mechani- 
cal causality  in  the  stronger  sense  of  absolute  determinism 

Causation,  Determinism,  and  the  "Good"    /    207 

held.  There  was,  in  other  words,  no  ontological  chance  or 
probability  in  the  object  of  empirically  verified,  theoretically 
designated  scientific  knowledge.  Thus,  according  to  these  four 
theories,  causality  is  not  merely  mechanical,  but  it  is  also 
unqualifiedly  deterministic.  Whatever  probability  existed  be- 
longed merely  to  the  experimental,  operational  side  and  hence 
was  merely  epistemological.  It  was  precisely  because  Einstein's 
own  theory  required,  and  because  he  consequently  believed, 
that  probability  in  physical  science  should  have  a  merely  epis- 
temological, theory-of-errors,  operational  status  that  he  ob- 
jected to  quantum  mechanics.  Thus  there  was  no  disagree- 
ment between  Einstein  and  quantum  physicists  about  what 
quantum  mechanics  afl5rms  with  respect  to  the  existence  of 
ontological  chance  and  probability.  The  answer,  therefore,  to 
Professor  Quine's  question  whether  probability  in  quantum 
mechanics  is  merely  epistemological  is  unequivocally  "No." 

For  this  reason  also  Professor  Blanshard's  and  Sir  David  j 
Ross's  contention  that  quantum  mechanics  provides  no  evi-/ 
dence    against    causal    determinism    is    erroneous.    Professor 
Blanshard  was  quite  right  when,  quoting  Sir  David,  he  noted 
that   epistemological   probability   and   chance   do   not  imply 
ontological  probability  and  chance.  But  the  novelty  of  quan- 
tum mechanics  consists  precisely  in  the  fact  that,  unlike  pre- 
vious  modern   scientific   theories   in   which   probability    and 
chance  are  merely  epistemological,  quantum  physicists  have 
found  it  impossible,  when  faced  with  experimental  findings  on 
black-body  radiation,  to  accept  mere  epistemological  or  opera-     j 
tional,  theory-of-errors  probability  and  have  been  forced  to     1 
introduce  instead  the  concept  of  probability  in  principle  at  the 
theoretical  level  into  the  specification  of  the  type  of  causality   / 
governing  the  object  of  scientific  knowledge  itself.  This  is  the 
case  because  in  quantum  mechanics'  definition  of  state  the 
postulates  in  principle  prescribe  not  merely  the  specification 
of  the  two  independent  variables,  position  and  momentum,  for 
each  object  of  the  system,  but  also  a  packet  of  such  numbers 
with  each  one  accompanied  by  its  respective  probability  num- 
ber.  Furthermore,   because   the   probability  is  introduced  in 
principle,  the  determinism  is  not,  as  Professor  Williams  has 
suggested,  restored  by  including  the  experimental  apparatus 
within  the  object  of  scientific  knowledge.  Also,  the  Compton 
effect  provides  experimental  evidence  to  the  same  conclusion. 

Nevertheless,  given  a  state  of  a  subatomic  system  defined 
in  terms  of  a  packet  of  position  and  momentum  numbers  for 
each  object  in  the  system,  accompanied  by  their  correspond- 

208    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

ing  probability  numbers,  the  postulates  of  the  theory  are  such 
that  future  state  of  the  system  defined  in  terms  of  position- 
momentum  numbers  and  probability  numbers  can  be  deduced 
by  recourse  to  the  Schrodinger  time  equation.  Consequently, 
in  quantum  mechanics  causality  in  the  weaker  sense  still  holds, 
but  mechanical  causality  in  the  stronger  sense  of  determinism 
does  not  hold. 
f    It  remains  to  be  shown  why  {a)   Einstein's  objections  to 

/quantum  mechanics  and  {b)  the  interpretation  of  it  suggested 
in  this  conference  by  Professor  Williams  are  untenable.  When 

-  Einstein  came  to  the  conclusion  that  it  is  possible  to  reconcile 
the  results  of  the  Michelson-Morley  experiment  with  the  basic 
theoretical  assumptions  of  modern  mechanics  and  electro- 
magnetics only  by  modifying  a  basic  postulate  introduced  by 
Newton  and  assumed  by  Maxwell  concerning  space  and  time 
and  the  simultaneity  of  spatially  separated  events,  Einstein 
himself  tells  us  that  he  was  faced  with  a  methodological  and 
epistemological  difficulty.  Newton,  having  asserted  that  he  in- 
troduced no  hypotheses  and  deduced  the  concepts  of  his 
theory  from  the  experimental  data,  left  the  impression — like 
Professor  Williams  in  his  attempt  to  derive  the  concepts  of 
modern  physics  from  the  experimental  data — that  the  experi- 
mental data  entailed  the  concepts.  Einstein  saw  that  if  this 
were  so  he  could  not  meet  the  difficulty  raised  by  the  Michel- 
son-Morley experiment  by  modifying  Newton's  theoretical 
assumptions.  For  the  experiments  performed  by  Newton  can 
certainly  be  repeated  today  with  the  same  results.  Hence,  if 
the  experiments  entail  Newton's  theory,  Newton's  theory  must 
still  be  retained.  Consequently,  Einstein  conducted  a  fresh 
examination  of  the  relation  between  the  experiments  of  the 
experimental  physicist  and  the  theoretical  concepts  of  his 
science.  In  this  essentially  epistemological  investigation  Ein- 
stein had  no  difficulty  showing  that  the  simultaneity  of  spati- 
ally separated  events,  which  is  the  same  for  all  observers  on 
the  same  Galilean  frame  of  reference,  is  not  directly  sensed 
but  is  instead  a  speculatively  introduced,  indirectly  verified 
hypothesis.  Hence  it  followed  that  it  was  not  necessary  to 
specify  the  relation  between  space  and  time  in  the  manner 
introduced  by  Newton.  This  opened  the  way  for  Einstein  to 
account  for  all  the  experiments  in  accord  with  Newton's 
theory  and  the  Michelson-Morley  experiment  without  contra- 
diction in  the  theoretically  novel  manner  of  Einstein's  special 
theory  of  relativity.  This  means  that  there  is  no  a  priori  rea- 
son knowable  ahead  of  time  why  the  causality  of  a  physical 

Causation,  Determinism,  and  the  "Good"    /    209 

system  must  be  of  the  stronger  mechanical  type.  Hence  there 
is  no  epistemological  justification,  on  Einstein's  own  analysis 
of  the  epistemology  of  modern  physical  knowledge,  for  his 
objection  to  the  introduction  of  the  theoretical  concept  of 
probability  into  the  definition  of  the  state  of  a  subatomic 
physical  system  in  quantum  mechanics. 

Furthermore,  there  are  experimental  reasons,  exactly  ana- 
logous to  the  Michelson-Morley  experiment,  demonstrating 
that  the  concept  of  probability  cannot  be  kept  out  of  the 
definition  of  state  for  subatomic  systems.  Before  Planck  intro- 
duced his  quantum  concept  the  traditional  experimentally  veri- 
fied, speculatively  proposed  theories  prescribed  in  principle 
that  the  positions  and  momenta  of  subatomic,  as  of  molar, 
scientific  objects  were  determinable  and  behaved  without 
reference  to  chance  or  probability.  In  short,  the  theory  of 
subatomic  systems  was  strictly  deterministic,  introducing  the 
concept  of  probability  into  neither  the  definition  of  the  time 
relation  between  states  nor  the  definition  of  state.  When,  how- 
ever, the  latter  theory  of  the  type  of  causality  governing  sub- 
atomic scientific  objects  was  pursued  mathematically  to  its 
deductive  consequences,  certain  experiments  on  black-body 
radiation,  exactly  analogous  to  the  Michelson-Morley  experi- 
ment with  respect  to  motion  in  electromagnetic  systems,  were 
performed,  and  these  experiments  did  not  give  the  result  that 
the  assumption  of  no  probability  in  the  definition  of  the  state 
of  subatomic  systems  requires.  It  was  to  meet  this  difficulty 
that  Planck  introduced  his  constant.  Later  Heisenberg  showed 
that  Planck's  constant  entails  the  uncertainty  principle.  It  is 
this  entailment,  necessary  to  reconcile  the  experimental  find- 
ings on  black-body  radiation  with  physical  theory,  that  forces 
the  introduction  of  the  concept  of  probability  in  principle  into 
the  definition  of  state  in  quantum  theory.  Thus  the  very  same 
epistemology  and  logic  of  the  experimental  situation  that 
drove  Einstein,  following  the  Michelson-Morley  experiment, 
to  the  modification  of  Newton's  assumption  concerning  space 
and  time,  drives  the  subatomic  physicists,  on  the  basis  of  the 
experiments  on  black-body  radiation,  to  the  modification  of 
the  definition  of  state  and  the  strict  determinism  of  previous 
physical  theories.  Hence,  on  his  own  theory  of  the  episte- 
mology of  mathematical  physics  and  its  methodology,  Ein- 
stein's objections  to  quantum  mechanics  are  invalid.  We  have 
no  alternative  but  to  hold  that  for  subatomic  systems,  mechani- 
cal causality  in  the  weaker  sense  of  the  words  still  holds,  but 
determinism  or  mechanical  causality  in  the  stronger  sense  does 

210    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

not  hold.  In  short,  quantum  mechanics  does  not  introduce  the 
concept  of  theoretical  probability  into  the  definition  of  the 
time  relation  between  states  but  does  introduce  it  into  the 
definition  of  state.  In  other  words,  quantum  mechanics,  as 
Professor  Bridgman's  paper  suggested,  introduces  ontological 
and  not  merely  epistemological  chance  and  probability. 

By  way  of  contrast  it  may  be  relevant  to  note  a  theory  of 
modern  physics  —  namely,  thermodynamics  in  its  statistical 
interpretation — in  which  the  concept  of  probability  is  not  in- 
troduced into  the  definition  of  state  but  is  introduced  into  the 
definition  of  the  time  relation  between  states.  Thus,  in  deter- 
mining the  state  of  such  a  thermodynamic  system  at  any  given 
time,  merely  the  values  of  the  independent  variables  —  tem- 
perature, energy,  etc. — need  be  specified  and  no  probability 
numbers  need  be  attached.  But  given  these  operationally 
determined  values  of  the  independent  variables  in  the  state 
function,  the  future  state  of  the  system,  again  described  com- 
pletely without  probability  numbers,  is  predicted  only  with  a 
high,  specified  degree  of  probability.  The  time  relation  be- 
tween states  is  one,  therefore,  not  of  necessary  connection,  but 
merely  of  highly  probable  connection.  This  is  why  such  scien- 
tific theories  are  called  statistical  and  noncausal  theories. 


Two  questions  may  be  asked  of  Professors  Edwards  and 
Hospers.  The  question  to  be  put  to  the  former  is,  "What  is  the 
meaning  of  the  word  'good'  when  you  say  that  it  would  be 
better  if  people  did  not  pass  moral  judgments  of  praise  and 
blame  on  what  others  do,  but  accepted  the  'objective'  truth 
that  they  cannot  help  themselves?  If  everything  is  absolutely 
determined  and  there  is  no  moral  responsibility,  what  is  the 
meaning  of  'better'  and  'worse'  as  the  words  are  used  at  the 
end  of  your  paper?"  The  question  addressed  to  Professor 
Hospers  is,  "If  aU  theories  obtained  by  rigorous  scientific 
methods  are  rationalizations  in  the  vicious  sense  of  this  word, 
how  can  you  be  sure  that  the  Freudian  theory  in  which  you 
have  so  much  confidence — whose  scientific  methods  still  re- 
main misty  and  unclarified  —  is  not  also  a  vicious  ration- 

May  I  suggest  a  possible  answer  to  the  questions  addressed 
to  Professor  Edwards.  Implicit  in  his  use  of  the  word  "better" 
in  his  assumption  that  "good  conduct"  is  conduct  in  accord 
with  empirically  verified  scientific  theory  concerning  the 
status  of  human  deeds  with  respect  to  causal  determinism. 

Causation,  Determinism,  and  the  "Good"    /    211 

This  implicit  assumption  is  equivalent  to  saying  that  "good"  is 
not  an  undefinable  concept,  as  G.  E.  Moore  maintained,  but 
is  instead  to  be  defined  in  terms  of  theory  that  is  scientifically 
verified  as  true.  There  are  other  reasons  for  supporting  this 
analysis  of  the  meaning  of  the  word  "good"  and  of  the  words 
"morally  better"  and  "morally  worse."  Clearly,  facts  merely 
are;  they  are  not  true  or  false,  good  or  bad.  This  being  so,  it 
seems  difficult  to  escape  the  conclusion  that  goodness  and  bad- 
ness, like  truth  and  falsity,  must  be  a  function  of  propositions 
about  fact.  But  if  this  analysis  of  the  meaning  of  the  word 
"good"  is  to  be  significant,  then  human  behavior  and  human 
choice  must  be,  in  part  at  least,  a  function  not  merely  of  fact, 
but  of  the  theory,  true  or  false,  that  people  hold  about  facts 
and  on  which  they  act. 

The  following  question  takes  one,  then,  to  the  heart  of  the 
problem  of  moral  responsibility:  Do  theories  matter  in  human 
acts?  Empirical  cultural  anthropology  has  shown  that  what 
people  do  in  a  given  culture  is  a  function  of  the  mentality  they 
share,  i.e.,  the  propositions  they  explicitly  and  implicitly  be- 
lieve. There  is  experimental  evidence  that  the  theory  of 
"trapped  universals"  of  McCulIoch  and  Pitts  makes  it  mean- 
ingful to  say  that  the  motor  response  of  the  nervous  system 
(i.e.,  what  a  person  does)  is  a  function  not  merely  of  the  sen- 
sory impulses  (i.e.,  the  purely  inductively  given  facts  affecting 
the  nervous  system)  but  also  of  the  symbolic  trapped  univer- 
sals in  the  cortex  that  integrate  and  interpret  the  input  stimuli, 
thereby  to  a  significant  extent  specifying  the  form  of  the 
motor  response. 

Hence,  quite  apart  from  the  scientific  evidence  that  deter- 
minism does  not  hold  even  for  subatomic  inorganic  systems  in 
quantum  mechanics,  there  is  evidence  that  scientific  knowl- 
edge is  quite  compatible  with  moral  responsibility  and  the  re- 
jection of  the  reductionism  of  judgments  of  right  and  wrong 
to  causally  deterministic  antecedent  factors.  This  conclusion  is 
confirmed  even  by  Professor  Edwards,  since  at  the  end  of  his 
paper,  notwithstanding  his  scientifically  questionable  affirma- 
tion of  absolute  determinism,  he  does  not  avoid  passing  a 
judgment  of  "morally  worse"  on  those  who  do  not  accept,  and 
of  "morally  better"  on  those  who  do  accept,  his  thesis  in  judg- 
ing human  conduct. 

Chapter  12 

Determinism,  Freedom,  Moral  . 
Res^nsibility/  and  Causal  Talk 

Arthur  Pap,  Yale  University 

It  is  the  contention  of  the  philosophers  whom  William  James, 
as  reported  by  Professor  Edwards,  caUed  "soft  determinists" 
(a  most  inappropriate  name,  I  think,  in  its  suggestion  of  "soft- 
headed") that  determinism  is  compatible  with  the  occurrence 
of  free  actions,  since  what  distinguishes  free  from  unfree  ac- 
tions is  the  mode  of  causation,  not  the  absence  of  causes. 
Some  of  them  further  explain  the  appearance  of  incompati- 
bility as  the  result  of  an  equivocation,  a  confusion  of  the 
meanings  of  "compelled"  and  "caused."  Now,  I  still  think  that 
this  diagnosis  is  correct  and  that  the  "problem"  of  freedom 
and  determinism  can  be  resolved  by  careful  analysis  of  such 
slippery  key  expressions  as  "unavoidable,"  "having  a  choice," 
"could  have  acted  differently,"  etc. 

Professor  Blanshard  tries  to  explain  how  we  can  feel  free 
although  our  actions  and  the  sUent  decisions  preceding  them 
are  uniquely  determined  by  antecedent  events  and  laws.  Now, 
on  whatever  grounds  a  philosopher  feels  sure  that  our  de- 
cisions, like  all  events,  are  "necessitated,"  I  fail  to  see  why  our 
"feeling  free"  calls  for  explanation  if  one  believes  in  deter- 
minism. Innumerable  times  in  the  past  I  have  verified  that  my 
decisions  were  followed  by  the  actions  I  decided  to  perform; 
hence  I  ascribe  to  myself  the  power  "to  do  as  I  please."  That 
I  feel  free  just  means  that  I  believe  on  good  grounds  that — 
within  limits,  of  course — I  can  do  as  I  please.  But  this  does 
not  even  seem  incompatible  with  a  causal  determination  of 
one's  decisions  unless  it  is  fallaciously  assumed  that  a  deter- 
mined (caused)  decision  eo  ipso  ceases  to  be  a  decision;  in 
other  words,  that  "caused  decision"  is  a  contradiction  in  terms. 
It  seems  to  me  that  what  requires  explanation  is  not  the  feel- 
ing of  freedom  but  the  fallacious  belief  that  a  caused  decision 
is  not  really  a  decision.  And  I  think  I  can  supply  this 

Suppose  I  were  an  omniscient  psychologist  engaged  in  pre- 
dicting scientifically  what  I  was  going  to  decide  to  do  a  short 
time  later  —  say,  that  after  five  minutes  I  would  decide  to 
scratch  my  forehead.  Could  I  really  make  a  decision  while 


Determinism,  Freedom,  Moral  Responsibility,  Causal  Talk      /     213 

predicting  it  silently;  that  is,  while  thinking  that  I  was  going 
to  make  it?  I  doubt  it.  Making  a  decision  and  predicting  that 
decision  are  mental  states  that  exclude  each  other  in  the  same 
mind,  since  making  a  decision  implies,  by  the  very  meaning  of 
the  term,  uncertainty  as  to  what  one  is  going  to  do.  But  is  it 
fallacious  thence  to  conclude  that  my  decision  is  not  predict- 
able by  another  mind.  From  the  fact  that  "predicting  my  own 
decision  while  making  the  decision"  is  meaningless  it  does  not 
follow  that  "predicting  a  decision"  is  meaningless  or  that  "pre- 
dicting my  own  decision  before  making  the  decision  (and  at 
the  time  of  deciding  oblivious  of  my  prediction)"  is  meaning- 
less. We  may  also  note  that,  if  to  a  set  of  antecedents  that 
make  the  occurrence  of  a  decision  D  highly  probable  we  add 
the  antecedent  expressed  by  "He  predicts  D  on  the  basis  of 
those  antecedents"  or  "He  knows  that  someone  else  has  pre- 
dicted D,"  we  get  a  set  that  may  well  reduce  the  probability 
of  D  to  improbability  or  even  impossibility.  But  this  is  no 
contradiction.  In  particular,  knowledge  of  some  determinist's 
pretensions  to  be  able  to  predict  my  decision  may  well  pro- 
duce in  me  the  desire  to  falsify  his  prediction,  but  of  course  if 
I  falsify  the  prediction  deliberately  I  have  not  thereby  refuted 
determinism:  "same  cause,  same  effect"  is  compatible  with 
"different  cause,  different  effect!" 

Professors  Blanshard  and  Edwards  seem  to  be  agreed — 
whatever  their  differences  on  other  points — that  the  definition 
of  a  free  act  as  one  that  is  caused  by  the  agent's  own  choice 
(i.e.,  as  an  act  that  would  not  occur  unless  the  agent  willed  it) 
leaves  the  real  problem  untouched;  which  is,  in  Professor 
Blanshard's  words,  "not  whether  we  can  do  what  we  choose  to 
do,  but  whether  we  can  choose  our  own  choice,  whether  the 
choice  itself  issues  in  accordance  with  law  from  some  anteced- 
ent." Professor  Edwards  seems  to  mean  roughly  the  same  by 
the  words  "choosing  his  own  character — the  character  that 
now  displays  itself  in  his  choices  and  desires  and  efforts."  But 
I  cannot  attach  any  meaning  to  the  expression  "choosing  my 
^3wn  choice."  I  understand  what  is  meant  by  "I  choose  to  read 
this  book"  but  not  what  is  meant  by  "I  choose  to  choose  to 
read  this  book."  And  what  could  be  meant  by  "I  chose  my 
own  character"?  One  gathers  that  by  "character"  Professor 
Edwards  means  a  set  of  dispositions,  including  dispositions  to 
make  such-and-such  choices  in  such-and-such  situations.  Now, 
surely  it  would  sound  queer  to  say,  "I  chose  to  acquire  the 
habit  of  smiling  broadly  at  my  boss  whenever  I  should  meet 
him."  It  does  make  sense  to  say  that  what  was  at  first  a  de- 

214    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

liberate,  conscious  effort  eventually  became  an  automatic 
response.  But  then  the  object  of  one's  choice,  in  the  usual 
sense  of  the  word,  is  still  a  specific  act  ("I  chose  to  put  on  a 
smUe  though  I  can't  stand  him"),  not  a  disposition  to  act  or 
to  decide  to  act  in  a  specific  way  in  such-and-such  a  situation. 

Indeed  I  stUl  maintain  that  when  people,  be  they  philoso- 
phers or  not,  ask  whether  one's  choice  itself  is  free  or  con- 
strained they  confuse  determination  with  constraint  (or  com- 
pulsion). If  by  the  assertion  that  the  choice  itself  is  not  free — 
though  the  overt  act  is  free  in  the  "soft"  determinists'  sense — 
one  means,  in  Professor  Blanshard's  words,  that  "the  choice 
itself  issues  in  accordance  with  law  from  some  antecedent," 
then  one  means  simply  that  the  choice  is  determined;  but  from 
its  being  determined  it  does  not  follow  that  it  is  compelled  in 
the  ordinary  sense  of  "compelled."  "I  was  compelled  to  choose 
between  death  and  poverty  (by  the  gangster)"  means  that 
either  alternative,  surrendering  the  money  or  not  surrendering 
it,  had  unpleasant  consequences.  On  the  other  hand,  we  call 
a  choice  free  if  the  agent  has  no  reason  to  believe  that  both 
alternatives,  doing  A  or  not  doing  A,  are  intrinsically  un- 
pleasant or  have  unpleasant  consequences;  in  other  words,  if 
it  is  empirically  possible  to  choose  in  accordance  with  one's 
desire.  The  usual  counterargument  is  that,  nevertheless,  if  all 
events  are  strictly  determined,  then  /  could  not  have  made 
any  other  choice  than  the  one  made;  therefore  the  freedom  of 
choice  is  a  mere  illusion.  But  what  does  "could"  mean?  "I 
went  to  the  movies,  but  I  could  have  gone  to  the  concert  in- 
stead" clearly  means  that  if  I  had  preferred  to  go  to  the  con- 
cert I  should  have  gone  (contrast  this  familiar  statement  with 
the  equally  familiar  one:  "Even  if  I  had  preferred  to  go  to  the 
concert,  I  should  not  have  gone,  because  it  was  sold  out"). 

Now,  certain  philosophers  and  psychologists  are  not  satis- 
fied with  the  common-sense  distinction  between  avoidable  and 
unavoidable  acts;  they  ask  whether  the  mental  preference  it- 
self is  avoidable.  But  if  "avoidable"  has  the  same  meaning  in 
this  new  context,  then  "My  preference  for  the  movies  that 
night  was  avoidable"  means  "If  I  had  preferred  not  to  prefer 
the  movies  to  the  concert,  I  should  not  have  preferred  them"; 
and  this,  I  submit,  is  the  same  meaningless  iteration  as  "choos- 
ing to  choose  to  read  this  book."  If,  on  the  other  hand,  "I 
could  not  have  preferred  anything  else"  means  that  the  ante- 
cedents uniquely  determined  that  preference,  then  those  who 
deny  freedom  of  choice  on  the  ground  of  determinism  are 
simply  asserting  the  tautology  that  determinism  is  incompat- 

Determinism,  Freedom,  Moral  Responsibility,  Causal  Talk     /    215 

ible  with  indeterminism,  not  the  interesting  but  false  proposi- 
tion that  determinism  is  incompatible  with  freedom  of  action 
and  freedom  of  choice  in  any  usual  sense  of  these  expressions. 

Implicit  in  the  above  is  my  reaction  to  the  conclusion  of 
Professor  Edwards'  paper  that  there  is  a  sense  of  "moral 
responsibility" — indeed,  this  is  alleged  to  be  the  sense  in  which 
the  expression  is  used  reflectively — in  which  determinism  en- 
tails that  one  is  never  morally  responsible  for  anything.  Pro- 
fessor Edwards,  following  Professor  C.  A.  Campbell,  tells  us 
that  for  some  people  the  statement  "X  is  morally  responsible 
for  doing  A"  entails,  "X  made  (or  chose)  his  own  character." 
Now,  if  "choosing  my  own  character"  is  meaningless,  as  it  is 
relative  to  the  ordinary  use  of  "choose"  (just  as  much  as  "eat- 
ing my  own  character"),  then  Professor  Edwards  has  at- 
tempted to  deduce  a  meaningful  and  startling  conclusion  from 
a  meaningless  definition  of  the  expression  "morally  respons- 
ible." Suppose,  on  the  other  hand,  that  "I  did  not  choose  my 
own  character"  means  "My  character  is  the  product  of  en- 
vironmental and  hereditary  factors  that  come  into  existence 
quite  independently  of  my  will."  I  think  Professor  Edwards  is 
right  in  saying  that  many  who  believe  in  determinism  refuse 
to  hold  people  "ultimately"  responsible  for  their  actions  on 
the  ground  that  they  did  not  choose  their  own  character  in  this 
sense.  But  I  think  the  reason  why  such  determinists  take  this 
attitude  is  primarily  that  they  fail  to  distinguish  clearly  be- 
tween determination  and  compulsion;  that  is,  they  think  it 
follows  from  the  premise  that  one's  actions  are  causally  deter- 
mined that  they  are  neither  right  nor  wrong  because  they  fal- 
laciously and  unconsciously  substitute  for  this  premise  the  far 
different  proposition  that  we  are  always  compelled  to  act  the 
way  we  act,  that  all  our  actions  are  unavoidable. 

Professor  Blanshard  agrees  with  the  "soft"  determinists  that 
determinism  is  compatible  with  moral  criticism.  But  he  sides 
with  the  indeterminists  in  holding  that  moral  actions,  actions 
inspired  by  a  sense  of  moral  duty,  for  example,  are  not  "neces- 
sitated" in  the  same  way  as  habitual  and  impulsive  acts.  This 
may  be  so,  but  I  am  not  clear  what  the  distinction  between 
causation  (or  necessitation)  on  different  levels  comes  to 
exactly.  Professor  Blanshard  discusses  deductive  inference  to 
bring  out  the  difference.  My  deducing  "All  A  are  C"  from  "All 
A  are  5"  and  "All  B  are  C,"  he  seems  to  maintain,  is  not 
simply  an  example  of  association;  the  implication  itself  neces- 
sitates the  transition  of  thought  from  premises  to  conclusion. 
Now,  it  seems  to  me  that  if  implications  have  such  causative 

216    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

force — directing  the  movement  of  thought  the  way  a  river  bed 
directs  the  flow  of  water — they  must  have  it  whether  the 
thinker  sees  them  or  not.  Yet  it  is  notorious  that  we  may  think 
of  a  set  of  premises  and  not  see  what  follows  from  them  or 
draw  the  wrong  conclusion  from  them.  One  may  counter  that 
one  would  see  the  entailed  conclusion  if  one  clearly  grasped  the 
meanings  of  the  premised  statements.  But  this  is  either  em- 
pirically false  or  else  an  unexciting  tautology — the  latter  if  the 
stipulated  definition  of  "grasping  the  meaning  of  p"  is  that 
one  know  all  the  necessary  consequences  of  p.  At  any  rate, 
this  is  not  a  definition  of  "knowing  the  meaning  of  p"  that 
Professor  Blanshard  could  accept  consistently  with  his  well- 
known  view  that  there  are  synthetic  entailments.  I  admit  that 
where  the  entailment  is  fairly  simple — syllogistic,  for  example 
— there  is  a  considerable  probability  that  thinking  of  the  prem- 
ises will  make  one  think  of  the  valid  conclusion.  Suppose  that 
"If  p  and  q,  then  ;-"  expresses  such  an  entailment,  where  r  is 
not  a  component  of  the  premises  (it  must  not  be  a  modus  pon- 
ens  entailment,  for  example).  Then  we  are  justified,  I  presume, 
in  making  the  corresponding  causal  statement:  other  things 
being  equal,  thinking  of  p  and  q  will  cause  a  mind  to  thing  of 
r  (the  "other  things"  are  such  factors  as  being  "minded"  to 
draw  a  conclusion  from  the  premises).  But  I  fail  to  see  why 
"cause"  in  this  context  should  have  a  different  meaning  from 
the  one  it  has  in  the  context  "If  a  man  has  frequently  witnessed 
that  the  striking  of  a  match  is  followed  by  a  flame,  then 
a  perception  of  the  first  event  wUl  cause  a  thought  (an  expec- 
tation) of  the  second  event" — which  I  suppose  is  an  example 
of  what  Professor  Blanshard  would  call  mere  association.  I 
suspect  that  from  the  difference  in  the  kind  of  implication  cor- 
responding to  the  causal  sequence  of  mental  events — neces- 
sary implication  in  one  instance,  contingent  regularity  in  the 
other — Professor  Blanshard  erroneously  deduces  a  difference 
in  the  kind  of  causation.  But  it  is  svu-ely  not  logically  necessary 
that,  where  p  and  q  entail  r,  the  thought  of  p  and  q  should  be 
followed  by  the  thought  of  r.  Otherwise  we  should  all  be  per- 
fect logicians. 

In  its  semantic  insight  Professor  Black's  paper  impressed 
me  as  the  highlight  of  the  New  York  University  Institute.  I 
agree  completely  with  nearly  everything  in  it,  especially  with 
the  argument  that  to  deduce  from  the  proposition  that  an 
act  is  caused  that  it  is  not  free  is  to  be  guilty  of  what  amounts 
to  self-contradiction;  that  free  acts  like  lifting  a  glass  of  beer 
to  one's  lips  are  jxist  the  sort  of  events  with  reference  to  which 

Determinism,  Freedom,  Moral  Responsibility,  Causal  Talk    /     217 

"cause"  is  ostensively  defined  in  the  first  place.  There  is  only 
one  point  Professor  Black  made  that  leaves  me  unconvinced. 
Regularity  of  sequence,  he  says,  is  presupposed  rather  than  as- 
serted by  a  singular  counterfactual  like  "If  he  had  not  lifted 
the  glass,  it  would  have  remained  motionless."  Whatever  the 
exact  definition  of  the  assertion-presupposition  distinction  may 
be,  I  am  sure  that  Professor  Black,  like  Stravi'son,  so  uses 
"presupposition"  that  the  falsity  of  a  presupposition  does  not 
entail  the  falsity  of  the  assertion  that  presupposes  it.  For  ex- 
ample, if  while  pointing  at  Mr.  X,  I  say,  "That  American  is 
very  rich,"  I  presuppose — do  not  assert — that  Mr.  X  is  an 
American;  for  if  it  turned  out  that  he  was  not  an  American 
but  very  rich,  the  proposition  I  asserted  would  not  be  refuted; 
it  is  just  that  a  false  assumption  about  Mr.  X  led  me  to  de- 
scribe him  incorrectly. 

Now,  let  the  relevant  generalization  that  according  to  Pro- 
fessor Black  is  presupposed,  not  asserted,  by  a  person  utter- 
ing the  counterfactual  "If  he  had  not  lifted  the  glass,  it  would 
have  remained  motionless"  be:  in  situations  like  that  one  (or 
perhaps  in  all  situations  whatever)  a  glass  does  not  move  to- 
ward a  man's  lips  unless  someone — usually  that  very  man — 
makes  it  move  that  way.  Is  is  really  true  that  no  amount  of 
disconfirmation  of  this  generalization  would  lead  us  to  retract 
the  counterfactual  as  false  as  long  as  we  saw  the  man's  clasp- 
ing of  the  glass  followed  by  the  approach  of  the  glass  to  his 
lips?  I  very  much  doubt  it.  If  I  experience  repeatedly  that  after 
I  clasped  a  glass  an  invisible  force  pushed  the  glass  to  my 
mouth  though  I  made  no  effort  whatever,  and  other  people 
reported  similar  experiences,  I  should  say  to  myself:  Perhaps 
it  was  the  same  way  in  that  case!  Perhaps  he  made  no  effort  at 
all;  and  even  if  he  did  make  an  effort,  perhaps  the  same  effect 
would  have  taken  place  if  he  had  made  no  effort.  Professor 
Black  may  reply  that,  if  the  generalization  is  indeed  implicitly 
asserted  when  we  utter  the  counterfactual,  it  is  inexplicable 
how  we  can  be  as  certain  of  the  truth  of  the  counterfactual  as 
we  normally  are.  But  I  think  that  this  high  degree  of  certainty 
can  be  accounted  for  without  difficulty  by  one  who  stands  by 
the  regularity  analysis  of  singular  causal  statements.  We  usu- 
ally apply  the  terms  "cause"  and  "effect"  to  changes  that 
somehow  catch  our  attention.  And  we  use  these  terms  in  such 
a  way  that  only  a  change  can  be  said  to  cause  a  change.  Hence 
it  is  analytic  to  say  that  only  a,  preceding  or  simultaneous, 
change  can  have  caused  the  observed  movement  of  the  glass; 
for  example,  the  drinker's  passage  from  a  state  of  indifference 

218     /    Detenninisni  and  Freedom 

toward  the  beer  to  a  state  of  desiring  it.  At  once,  then,  factors 
that  remained  constant  are  ruled  out:  the  movement  of  the 
glass  could  not,  for  example,  have  been  caused  by  anybody's 
perception  of  it,  for  it  was  perceived  all  along  before  it  moved, 
etc.  True,  many  other  changes  preceded  the  effect:  thus,  some- 
one near-by  laughed  shortly  before  it  moved.  But  as  we  know 
of  many  instances  when  similar  changes  were  not  followed  by 
a  similar  effect,  they  are  likewise  ruled  out  as  possible  causes. 
My  point  is  that  the  very  regularity  analysis  of  the  meaning 
of  "cause"  justifies  an  instantaneously  and  unconsciously  per- 
formed eliminative  induction  that  bestows  a  high  probability 
on  the  singular  causal  statement. 

Chapter   13 

Some   Eqyivo€al-ions   of  the 

Noflof^   of   Responsibility 

Alfred  Schutz,  New  School  for  Social  Research 

Our  discussion  of  the  problem  of  responsibility  was  mainly 
concerned  with  the  question  on  what  grounds  a  person  might 
be  held  answerable  or  accountable  by  law  or  from  a  moral 
point  of  view  for  something  he  did  or  omitted  to  do.  The  con- 
sequence of  responsibility,  in  this  sense,  is  the  infliction  of 
punishment,  if  we  take  this  term  in  a  sense  broad  enough  to 
include  reprehension,  criticism,  and  censure.  But  even  in  this 
sense  the  notion  "to  be  responsible"  may  mean  two  different 
things:  on  the  one  hand,  a  man  is  responsible  for  what  he  did; 
on  the  other  hand,  he  is  responsible  to  someone — the  person, 
the  group,  or  the  authority  who  makes  him  answerable. 

This  distinction  between  "being  responsible  for"  and  "being 
responsible  to"  becomes  of  particular  importance  if  another 
equivocation  of  the  notion  of  responsibility  is  taken  into  ac- 
count, namely  that  between  its  use  in  terms  of  the  third  (or 
second)  person  and  in  terms  of  the  first  person.  It  is  submitted 
that  the  notion  of  "responsible"  is  an  entirely  different  one  if 
used  in  a  proposition  of  the  type  "This  person  is  responsible 
for  this  and  that"  and  in  a  proposition  of  the  type  "I  feel 
responsible  for  this  and  that  (e.g.,  for  the  proper  education  of 
my  children)."  It  is  further  submitted  that  these  two  notions 
of  responsibility  cannot  fully  coincide  and  that  any  philo- 
sophical analysis  of  the  problem  of  responsibility  must  remain 
incomplete  without  taking  into  account  its  subjective  aspect. 

In  using  the  expression  "the  subjective  aspect"  about  the 
notion  "feeling  responsible"  in  terms  of  the  first  person,  we 
adopt  an  unfortunate,  but  by  now  generally  accepted,  termi- 
nology of  the  social  sciences,  which  distinguishes  between  the 
subjective  and  the  objective  meaning  of  human  actions,  hu- 
man relations,  and  human  situations.  It  was  Max  Weber  who 
made  this  distinction  the  cornerstone  of  his  methodology. 
Subjective  meaning,  in  this  sense,  is  the  meaning  that  an  action 
has  for  the  actor  or  that  a  relation  or  situation  has  for  the 
person  or  persons  involved  therein;  objective  meaning  is  the 
meaning  the  same  action,  relation,  or  situation  has  for  any- 


220    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

body  else — a  partner  or  observer  in  everyday  life,  the  social 
scientist,  or  the  philosopher.  The  terminology  is  unfortunate 
because  the  term  "objective  meaning"  is  obviously  a  misnomer 
in  that  the  so-called  "objective"  interpretations  are  in  turn  rela- 
tive to  the  particular  attitudes  of  the  interpreters  and  there- 
fore, in  a  certain  sense,  "subjective." 

To  elaborate  on  the  difference  between  the  subjective  and 
the  objective  meaning  of  responsibility  would  require  a  rather 
lengthy  analysis.  We  have  to  restrict  ourselves  to  some  scanty 
remarks.  If  I  feel  merely  subjectively  responsible  for  what  I 
did  or  omitted  to  do  without  being  held  answerable  by  another 
person,  the  consequence  of  my  misdeed  will  not  be  reprehen- 
sion, criticism,  censure,  or  another  form  of  punishment  in- 
flicted on  me  by  someone  else,  but  regret,  remorse,  or  repent- 
ance— or,  in  theological  terms,  contrition  and  not  attrition. 
The  resulting  states  of  grief,  anguish,  or  distress  are  marks  of 
the  true  sense  of  guilt  that  is  phenomenologically  something 
entirely  different  from  the  "guilt  feeling"  in  psychoanalytic 
terminology.  It  is  the  outcome  of  the  feeling  of  being  respon- 
sible for  something  done  or  left  undone  and  of  the  impossibil- 
ity of  restoring  the  past.  Orestes  in  Aeschylus'  Eumenides  was 
not  redeemed  before  the  goddess  had  reconciled  the  Furies, 
although  the  judges  of  the  Areopagus  had  placed  an  equal 
number  of  white  and  black  balls  into  the  urn.  In  our  times 
we  find  certain  eminent  scientists  suffering  under  a  deep-rooted 
sense  of  responsibility  for  having  co-operated  in  the  produc- 
tion of  atomic  weapons,  in  spite  of  the  honours  bestowed  on 
them  by  a  grateful  government.  On  the  other  hand,  the  law 
might  hold  me  answerable  for  an  act  that  my  personal  sense 
of  responsibility  motivated  me  in  performing  (Antigone's 
conflict  is  an  example).  And  here  the  distinction  between  be- 
ing responsible  for  something  and  being  responsible  to  some- 
one appears  in  a  new  light.  I  may  agree  with  the  other's  ver- 
dict that  I  am  responsible  for  a  particular  state  of  affairs  but 
maintain  that  I  feel  accountable  for  my  deed  merely  to  God 
or  my  conscience  but  not  to  my  government. 

These  are  merely  examples  for  the  complicated  underlying 
dialectic  of  t'ne  subjective  and  the  objective  meaning  of  re- 
sponsibility. But  the  same  dialectic  underlies  the  meaning  of  a 
norm  for  the  norm-giver  and  the  norm-addressee.  Any  law 
means  something  different  to  the  legislator,  the  person  subject 
to  the  law  (the  law-abiding  citizen  and  the  lawbreaker),  the 
law-interpreting  court,  and  the  agent  who  enforces  it.  Duty  has 
a  different  meaning  as  defined  by  me  autonomously  and  as  im- 

Some  Equivocations  of  the  Notion  of  Responsibility    /    221 

posed  on  me  from  outside.  The  whole  question  of  determinism 
in  law  and  ethics  will  have  to  be  answered  in  a  different  way  if  . 
formulated  in  subjective  or  objective  terms. 

The  distinction  between  the  subjective  and  the  objective 
meaning  of  laws,  values,  morals,  and  responsibility  merely 
from  the  point  of  view  of  the  individual  can  also  be  made  on 
the  level  of  group  relations.  Adopting  Sumner's  classical  dis- 
tinction between  in-group  and  out-group,  it  can  be  said  that 
responsibility,  for  example,  has  a  different  meaning  if  an  in- 
group  acknowledges  responsibility  for  its  acts  and  holds  some 
of  its  members  responsible,  or  if  an  out-group  makes  the  in- 
group  and  its  members  responsible  for  misdeeds.  It  is  one 
thing  if,  in  the  Nuremberg  trials,  the  Nazi  leaders  were  held 
responsible  by  the  Allied  Powers,  and  quite  another  thing  if 
they  were  held  answerable  by  the  German  people. 

Chapter   14 

Dennis  Sciama,  Trinity  College, 
Cambridge  University 

Professor  Blanshard  raised  the  question  of  our  feeling  that 
we  have  free  will.  He  suggested  that  we  are  under  an  illusion 
and  mentioned  some  psychological  reasons  for  our  mistake. 
I  agree  that  we  may  be  under  an  illusion,  but  I  should  like  to 
suggest  that  the  reasons  may  be  logical  rather  than  psychologi- 
cal I  have  in  mind  the  fact  that  a  computing  machine,  for 
instance,  cannot  know  all  about  itself  for  the  usual  self- 
referential  reasons.  Similarly  a  brain  cannot  know  all  about 
itself  and  may  therefore  be  unaware  of  some  of  the  factors 
determining  its  behavior.  This  might  then  lead  to  the  illusion 
that  we  have  free  will — an  illusion  that  no  amount  of  intro- 
spection could  dispel.  (Professor  Feigl  told  me  that  this  idea 
has  been  elaborated  by  Karl  Popper  in  an  article  in  the 
British  Journal  of  the  Philosophy  of  Science  ^ — an  article  I 
have  not  seen.) 


Professor  Munitz  raised  the  question:  What  is  knowledge? 
Perhaps  a  scientific  comment  on  this  question  might  be  useful. 
If  you  walk  into  a  laboratory  and  find  a  bar  of  metal  that  is 
much  hotter  at  one  end  than  the  other,  you  infer  that  the  bar 
must  have  been  heated  at  one  end.  (The  problem  of  justifying 
this  inference  is  interesting,  but  I  cannot  go  into  it  here.)  In 
other  words,  the  bar  carries  some  information  about  the  past. 
In  a  specialized  sense  the  bar  can  be  said  to  "know"  some- 
thing about  the  past.  To  put  it  more  abstractly:  a  macroscopic 
system  that  is  substantially  far  from  equilibrium  carries  infor- 
mation about  the  past  and  can  be  said,  in  a  specialized  sense, 
to  "know"  something  about  the  past. 

Of  course  we  usually  want  to  mean  something  more  than 
this  when  we  use  the  word  "knowledge."  We  want  the  system 

1  "Indetermmism  ia  Quantum  Physics  and  Classical  Physics"   (1950),  I. 

Observations    /    223 

to  know  that  it  knows.  This  can  be  achieved  with  the  human 
brain  if  we  follow  those  theorists  who  suppose  that  inside  the 
brain  there  is  a  neural  circuit  that  partially  maps  the  state  of 
the  brain  as  a  whole.  The  brain  then  carries  information  by 
being  far  from  equilibrium,  and  this  information  is  mapped 
onto  the  special  circuit,  whose  deviation  from  equilbrium  en- 
ables the  brain  to  know  that  it  knows. 


Professor  Lande  raised  the  question  how  we  are  to  under- 
stand the  existence  in  nature  of  random  or  nearly  random 
processes.  Professor  Frank  suggested  that  one  need  only  sup- 
pose that  fields  of  force  are  sufficiently  complicated.  This  is 
the  conventional  answer,  but  I  agree  with  Lande  that  there  is 
more  to  it  than  that.  I  do  not  know  the  answer,  but  I  should 
like  to  mention  some  of  the  relevant  considerations. 

As  we  trace  back  in  time  the  world  line  of  each  atom  par- 
taking of  the  random  motion,  we  seek  some  moment  at  which 
we  can  say:  the  randomizing  element  is  introduced  here.  This 
forces  us  to  consider  the  cosmological  problem  concerned 
with  the  state  of  the  universe  a  long  time  ago.  Two  possibili- 
ties are  usually  discussed  in  this  connection.  The  first  is  that 
there  was  a  singular  moment  about  five  billion  years  ago  when 
all  the  material  in  the  universe  was  crowded  together  at  an 
infinitely  high  density.  One  must  then  assume  that  there  was 
the  required  amount  of  randomness  present  at  that  time,  a 
procedure  that  is  perhaps  somewhat  ad  hoc.  The  second  pos- 
sibility is  that  the  universe  has  the  same  large-scale  appear- 
ance at  all  times,  the  dilution  arising  as  the  expansion  of  the 
universe  is  compensated  by  the  continual  creation  of  new 
matter.  On  this  view,  when  one  traces  back  the  world  line  of 
an  atom  one  comes  to  the  point  where  it  first  appeared.  Have 
we  the  right  to  say  that  this  appearance  is  a  random  process? 
We  cannot  answer  this  question  in  the  absence  of  a  detailed 
theory  of  the  process  of  creation,  but  it  seems  to  me  that  this 
is  the  question  that  must  be  answered  (or  the  corresponding 
one  for  the  high-density  singularity)  before  Lande's  problem 
will  be  solved. 

Chapter   15 

Determinism   and   the 
Theory  of  Agency 

Richard  Taylor,  Brown  University 

I  SHALL  NEITHER  provc  nor  disprove  determinism.  Instead,  I 
shall  ( 1 )  give  a  precise  statement  of  it,  as  I  think  Edwards 
and  Hospers  understand  it,  (2)  show  that  it  does,  as  they 
maintain,  entail  that  men  have  no  moral  responsibilities,  (3) 
elicit  the  defects  of  the  usual  answers  to  this  claim,  (4)  indi- 
cate how  a  simple  indeterminism  supplies  no  better  basis  for 
responsibility,  and  (5)  sketch  a  theory  of  agency  that  I  think 
anyone  insisting  on  moral  responsibility  must  be  driven  to. 

Determinism.  Determinism  is  the  thesis  that  whatever  oc- 
curs occurs  under  conditions  given  which  nothing  else  could 
occur.  Indeterminism  is  simply  the  minimum  denial  of  this, 
viz.,  that  at  least  some  things  occur  under  conditions  given 
which  something  else  could  occur  instead.  But  these  state- 
ments need  to  be  made  precise. 

The  modal  term  "could"  expresses  causal  contingency, 
which  I  shall  define  in  terms  of  causal  or  nomical  necessity. 
There  is,  that  is  to  say,  a  clear  and  common  sense  in  which, 
for  examole,  a  man  who  has  been  decapitated  necessarily  dies, 
or  can  not  go  on  living;  or,  for  another  example,  water  heated 
to  a  certain  point  under  certain  conditions  has  to  boil,  though 
no  logical  necessities  are  here  involved. 

Given,  then,  this  sense  of  necessitation,  we  can  define  the 
other  modal  words  in  terms  of  it  and  reformulate  determinism 
and  indeterminism  accordingly.  Thus: 

e  is  impossible  =  — e  is  necessary, 

e  is  possible      =  — ( — e  is  necessary), 

e  is  contingent  =  — (e  is  necessary)  •  — ( — e  is  necessary), 
where  e  stands  for  any  event  whatever,  and  — e  for  any 
event  incompatible  with  e.  These  definitions  show  that  the 
possible  and  the  contingent  are  not  coextensive. 

Determinism,  then,  is  the  thesis  that  in  the  case  of  any  true 
statement  of  the  form  "e  occurs"  the  event  whose  name  or 
description  replaces  "e"  i"  ca'""'!!"  nccessitat«*d,  nf  ■t  con- 
tingent. Indeterminism  is  the  thesis  that  in  the  case  of  some 


Determinism  and  the  Theory  of  Agency    /    225 

true  statement  of  that  form,  the  event  named  or  described  is 

Responsibility.  Edwards  and  Hospers  believe  that  determin- 
ism is  incompatible  with  responsibility  and  obligation  on  the 
basis,  I  believe,  of  the  following  argument.  It  is  assumed  (a) 
that  responsibility  and  obligation,  in  their  strictly  ethical  sense, 
if  they  have  any  application  at  all,  figure  only  in  the  context 
of  human  conduct,  not  in  that  of  the  behavior  of  animals,  and 
(b)  that  a  necessary  (not  sufficient)  condition  for  ascribing 
this  responsibility  to  a  man  for  what  he  has  done,  or  obliga- 
tion for  what  he  has  yet  to  do,  is  that  he  could  have  done,  or 
could  do,  something  else;  that  is,  that  the  occurrence  for 
which  he  is  responsible  or  obligated  is  contingent.  But  (c) 
this  condition  is  never  fulfilled.  Hence  (d)  no  man  has  ever 
been  morally  responsible  for  anything  he  has  ever  done,  or 
wiU  ever  be  morally  obligated  to  do  anything  else.  A  coroUary 
of  this  is  that  the  notions  of  "ought"  and  "ought  not"  have 
no  application  to  human  conduct  in  any  sense  in  which  they 
do  not  equally  apply  to  the  behavior  of  animals. 

"Soft  determinism."  Determinists  unwilling  to  accept  this 
conclusion  have  tried  several  rejoinders,  of  which  I  shall  cite, 
and  reject,  the  four  most  common. 

1.  It  is  said  that,  even  assuming  determinism,  the  necessary 
condition  for  responsibility  is  often  fulfilled,  for  to  say  that 
an  agent  could  have  done  otherwise  means  only  that  he  would 
have  done  otherwise  had  he  chosen  to. 

But  this  neglects  the  fact  that,  if  determinism  is  true,  he 
could  not  have  chosen  otherwise.  Indeed,  by  this  kind  of 
argument,  one  could  say  that,  though  a  man  has  died  of 
decapitation,  he  did  not  have  to  die,  that  he  could  have  lived 
on — meaning  only  that  he  would  have  lived  had  he  somehow 
kept  his  head  on!  And  this  is  hardly  the  sort  of  contingency 
we  want. 

2.  Again,  it  is  said  that  a  sufficient  condition  for  ascribing 
moral  responsibility  is  that  an  agent  act  from  deliberation 
with  knowledge  of  the  consequences,  and  that  this  condition 
is  often  fulfilled. 

But  this  presupposes  the  necessary  condition  for  such  re- 
sponsibility that  according  to  determinism  is  never  fulfilled, 
for,  as  Hart  reminded  us  (citing  Aristotle),  it  makes  sense  to 
deliberate  only  about  things  that  are,  or  are  believed  to  be, 
contingent.  This  point  becomes  clear  if  we  remind  ourselves 
that,  according  to  determinism,  not  only  is  a  man's  behavior 
causally  necessitated  (among  other  things,  by  the  course  of 

226    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

his  deliberations),  but  so  also  is  every  step  and  detail  of  his 
dehberations,  and  so  also  are  his  beliefs  (true  or  false) 
about  the  future,  and  hence  his  beliefs  concerning  the  effects 
of  his  actions.  Under  these  conditions  one  can  no  more 
ascribe  moral  responsibility  to  a  man  than  to  a  robot  who 
"deliberates,"  and  then  "acts,"  in  response  to  our  pushing 
various  buttons  (labeled  "deliberate"  etc.),  every  step  of  the 
chain  then  following  by  causal  necessity. 

3.  Determinists  sometimes  say  that  we  are,  after  all,  re- 
sponsible only  for  our  acts,  not  our  intentions,  choices,  or 
decisions.  A  man  is  not  punished  or  rewarded  for  deciding  to 
do  something  unless  he  then  goes  ahead  and  does  it,  and  since 
even  advocates  of  "free  will"  concede  that  our  acts  are  caus- 
ally determined  (by  our  choices  or  "wills,"  for  instance), 
there  is  evidently  no  absurdity  in  being  held  responsible  for 
what  is  determined. 

But  an  indeterminist  is  not  likely  to  concede  that  all  our 
acts  are  causally  determined.  Moreover,  this  view  conceives 
of  responsibility  only  in  terms  of  reward  and  punishment,  con- 
fusing moral  responsibility  with  corrigibility.  What  I  am  re- 
ferring to  as  moral  responsibility  comes  out  more  clearly  if 
we  consider  cases  in  which  no  questions  of  law,  no  questions 
of  benefiting  or  harming  others,  and  no  questions  of  reward, 
punishment,  or  retribution  are  at  all  involved.  If,  for  instance, 
an  intelligent  man  studies  what  is  in  fact  a  valid  philosophical 
argument,  understands  it,  accepts  the  premises  as  true  and  the 
reasoning  as  valid,  and  yet  refuses  to  accept  the  conclusion, 
there  is  no  philosopher,  save  those  who  deny  obligation  al- 
together, who  would  not  say  that  he  ought  to  accept  the  con- 
clusion. But  here  no  overt  act  is  involved,  but  only  a  decision, 
and  no  question  of  reward,  punishment,  or  retribution  comes 
into  the  picture,  much  less  one  of  legality.  It  cannot  be  true, 
therefore,  that  men  have  no  responsibilities  or  obligations 
with  respect  to  their  decisions,  unless  it  should  turn  out  that 
they  have  no  responsibilities  or  obligations  whatever. 

4.  Finally,  many  determinists  have  said  that  moral  respon- 
sibility consists  only  in  amenability  to  a  change  of  behavior 
through  the  force  of  real  or  anticipated  rewards  or  punish- 
ments; in  other  words,  that  responsibility  simply  consists  in 
corrigibility — a  view  that  not  only  is  compatible  with  deter- 
minism but  presupposes  it. 

This  definition  of  responsibility,  however,  violates  what  was 
assumed  at  the  outset — namely,  that  lower  animals  have  nei- 
ther moral  obligations  nor  responsibilities.  The  behavior  of 

Determinism  and  the  Theory  of  Agency     /    227 

almost  any  sentient  thing — rodents  and  fish,  for  instance — is 
alterable  by  the  stimulus  of  reward  or  punishment.  Moreover, 
this  queer  conception  of  moral  responsibility  and  obligation, 
in  addition  to  applying  to  situations  to  which  moral  concepts 
do  not  apply,  fails  to  cover  cases  of  the  sort  we  just  con- 
sidered. For  when  one  says  that  a  man  ought  to  accept  a  con- 
clusion, in  the  light  of  probative  evidence  known  to  him,  he 
does  not  mean  merely  that  he  can  be  induced  to  do  so  by 
threat  or  reward;  indeed,  the  obligation  might  hold  when  this 
condition  does  not. 

I  regard  it  as  reasonable,  then,  that  if  determinism  is  true 
no  man  has  ever  been  morally  responsible  for  anything  he  has 
ever  done,  and  no  man  ever  will  be  under  any  obligation  to 
do  anything.  This  is  a  painful  conclusion  to  accept,  particu- 
larly in  view  of  the  fact  that,  if  one  does  accept  it,  one  can 
try  to  persuade  others  to  do  so  only  by  threats,  blows,  or 
arguments,  but  can  never  say  that  tiicy  ought  to  accept  it, 
even  if  it  is  proved.  But  the  conclusion  may  well  be  true  none- 
theless, for  it  seems  to  be  entailed  by  what  most  philosophers 
regard  as  obviously  true,  viz.,  determinism. 

Indeterminism.  The  denial  of  determinism,  however,  seems 
no  more  compatible  with  moral  judgment  than  determinism, 
for  it  would  seem  to  rob  human  actions,  in  Liebnitz's  phrase, 
of  any  "rhyme  or  reason."  Since  this  thought  is  fairly  familiar 
I  shall  not  elaborate  it  but  only  illustrate  it. 

Suppose  an  agent  so  constituted  that  his  actions  are  deter- 
mined by  the  numbers  that  turn  up  on  a  roulette  wheel,  and 
suppose,  further,  that  the  wheel  obeys  no  causal  laws  what- 
ever, so  that  its  behavior  is  unpredictable  in  principle.  Now, 
it  would  be  plainly  irrational  to  consider  an  agent  so  consti- 
tuted morally  responsible  for  those  acts  or  obligated  to  per- 
form others,  since  they  are  obviously  utterly  beyond  his  con- 
trol; yet  this  situation  corresponds  exactly,  so  far  as  moral 
judgment  is  concerned,  to  that  of  an  agent  whose  acts  are 
quite  undetermined.  -^ 

Agency.  To  salvage  moral  responsibility  one  must  resort  to 
certain  odd  metaphysical  notions  that  have  long  since  been 
out  of  fashion  and  that  are  admittedly  most  difficult  to  com- 
prehend clearly.  What  is  needed,  that  is,  is  a  view  according 
to  which  (a)  there  is  a  reason  for  everything  that  happens, 
but  {b)  some  such  happenings — viz.,  some  human  acts — are 
contingent.  The  only  way  of  satisfying  these  seemingly  in- 
compatible requirements  is  to  suppose  that  an  act  for  which 
an  agent  is  responsible  is  performed  by  him,  but  that  he,  in 

228    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

turn,  is  not  causally  necessitated  to  do  it.  Now,  this  does,  I 
think,  accord  with  what  men  take  themselves  to  be — namely, 
agents  (cf.  Latin  agere)  or  beings  that  act  rather  than  things 
all  aspects  of  whose  behavior  are  the  causal  consequences  of 
the  way  they  are  acted  upon.  It  now  remains  to  elicit  just 
what  this  theory  involves,  and  see  whether  it  is  compatible 
with  responsibility. 

First,  then,  it  involves  the  conception  of  a  self  or  person 
(i.e.,  an  agent)  that  is  not  merely  a  congeries  or  series  of 
states  or  events,  for  on  this  view  it  is  an  agent  who  performs 
certain  acts  (i.e.,  who  acts)  rather  than  states  or  events  in  his 
history  that  causally  determine  them — these  states  or  events 
being,  presumably,  if  not  things  done  by  himself,  then  simply 
the  causal  consequences  of  other  states  or  events,  whether  of 
his  own  history  or  that  of  other  things. 

Second,  it  involves  an  extraordinary  conception  of  causa- 
tion, according  to  which  something  that  is  not  an  event  can 
nevertheless  bring  about  an  event — a  conception,  that  is,  ac- 
cording to  which  a  "cause"  can  be  something  other  than  a 
sufficient  condition;  for  if  we  say  that  a  person  is  the  "cause" 
of  his  act,  we  are  not  saying  that  he  is  a  sufficient  condition 
for  its  occurrence,  since  he  plainly  is  not.  We  must  accord- 
ingly not  speak  of  an  agent  as  causing  an  act,  since  "being  a 
cause"  ordinarily  just  means  "being  a  sufficient  condition," 
but  rather  of  his  originating  it  or,  simply,  of  his  performing  it 
— in  a  manner  in  which  things  in  the  physical  world,  so  far 
as  we  know,  are  never  done  or  brought  about.  And  this  is 
evidently  the  conception  of  Aristotle,  who  spoke  of  living 
things  as  "self -moved,"  It  is  also  what  later  philosophers,  like 
Thomas  Reid,  meant  by  "active  power,"  viz.,  the  power  to 
act  without  being  acted  upon,  and  it  may  be  what  Kant  meant 
when  he  obscurely  spoke  of  a  "noumenal"  self  that  is  free. 
I    Now,  both  of  these  conceptions — that  of  an  agent  as  dis- 
tinct from  the  states  or  events  of  his  history,  and  that  of 
performing  as  distinct  from  being  a  sufficient  condition — are 
certainly  odd  and  hard  to  conceive  of  clearly.  Indeed,  a  phil- 
osopher could  not  be  accused  of  stubbornness  if  he  preferred 
to  give  up  moral  responsibility  to  embracing  these  two  no- 
tions. But  I  am  sure  that  only  by  accepting  them  can  one  also 
accept   the   notions  of  moral   responsibility,   obligation,   and 
what  Professor  Hook  referred  to  as  "dignity." 

It  still  remains  to  see,  however,  whether  this  conception  of 
agency  is  compatible  with  responsibility.  To  show  that  it  is, 
it  needs  to  be  shown  that  on  this  view  (a)  some  human  acts 

Determinism  and  the  Theory  of  Agenqf    /    229 

are  contingent,  in  the  sense  defined;  (b)  animals  are  not  ren- 
dered morally  responsible;  and  (c)  acts  do  not  arise  "without 
rhyme  or  reason,"  i.e.,  are  not  capricious. 

With  regard  to  the  first  point:  some  acts  are  contingent  on 
this  view,  for  they  are  not  simply  the  causal  consequences  of 
antecedent  conditions.  Now,  it  will  be  tempting  to  say  that 
there  must  be  sufficient  conditions  for  an  agent's  doing  just 
what  he  does,  but  this  simply  begs  the  question,  being  just 
what  the  theory  denies.  There  are  certainly  always  conditions 
under  which  any  event  occurs,  but  such  conditions  do  not 
in  all  cases  necessitate  just  that  event  to  the  exclusion  of  any 
other;  otherwise  there  would  be  no  such  thing  as  an  act,  nor 
would  anything  ever  be  done.  We  may  further  assume  that  for 
j  any  act  that  is  performed,  there  are  reasons  why  it  is  per- 
formed; but  such  reasons  need  not  be  causal  conditions. 
Rather,  they  may  be,  for  example,  motives  or  purposes,  which 
lare  not  sufficient  conditions.  To  say,  for  instance,  that  an 
agent  acted  in  a  certain  way  in  order  to  achieve  a  certain 
purpose  is  to  give  an  explanation,  but  not  a  causal  one,  for  his 
conduct.  And  if  it  is  now  insisted  that  there  must,  in  any  case, 
be  conditions  sufficient  for  an  agent's  having  just  such  pur- 
poses and  motives  as  he  has,  this  may  or  may  not  be  true 
(I  think  it  is  not);  it  is  in  any  case  irrelevant,  for  it  would 
mean  that  only  his  purposes  and  motives — but  not  thereby 
his  acts — are  causally  determined. 

Secondly,  as  to  the  question  whether  this  theory  would 
render  animals  morally  responsible:  it  evidently  would  not. 
If  animals  are  "self-moving,"  as  Aristotle  thought,  they  do 
indeed  satisfy  a  necessary  condition  for  responsibility;  but  it 
does  not  follow  that  they  satisfy  any  suflftcient  condition  for  it, 
and,  in  fact,  they  evidently  do  not. 

Finally,  as  to  the  question  whether  this  theory  avoids  capri- 
ciousness  in  human  acts:  it  plainly  does  not,  //  by  "capricious" 
nothing  more  is  meant  than  "contingent."  That  is,  it  does 
deny  that  there  are  conditions  sufficient  for  the  occurrence  of 
all  events  that  occur.  But  it  does  not  deny  that  there  is  an 
explanation  or  reason  for  every  event,  as  we  have  just  seen, 
for  there  are  ways  of  explaining  a  man's  conduct  otherwise 
than  by  a  recitation  of  causal  conditions.  The  concept  of 
agency,  then,  is  quite  unlike  that  of  a  thing  whose  behavior 
is  arranged  to  coincide  with  the  random  selections  of  a  rou- 
lette; for,  assuming  the  wheel  to  be  causally  undetermined, 
there  is  no  ultimate  explanation  for  the  roulette's  behavior, 
whereas  there  is  for  the  agent's.  Moreover,  saying  of  an  agent 

230    /    Detenninism  and  Freedom 

that  he  acts  makes  sense;  but  we  cannot  conceive  of  a  wheel 
— no  agent  at  all — as  "deciding"  what  is  to  be  "done." 

Conclusion.  I  do  not  claim  to  have  proved  a  theory  of 
agency,  but  I  believe  I  have  shown  that,  if  it  is  intelligible,  it 
renders  moral  responsibility  possible.  The  conditions  of  moral 
responsibility  can  thus  be  elicited,  in  terms  of  agency,  as 

Consider  a  situation  in  which  some  object  O  grasps  a  knife 
and  cuts  off  a  man's  hand.  Now  assume:  (1)  there  were  no 
conditions  sufficient  for  this  event — i.e.,  it  was  contingent; 
(2)  O  is  an  agent,  e.g.,  a  man;  (3)  the  event  described  is  an 
act  of  O's  and  not,  for  example,  a  reflex;  (4)  O  realized, 
while  contemplating  the  act,  what  it  consisted  in,  and  (5)  he 
knew  what  its  consequences  would  be,  and  that  they  would  be 

A.  Each  of  these  assumptions  can  be  true,  and  they  can  all 
be  true  together;  that  is,  there  is  no  proposition  known  to  be 
true  with  which  the  conjunction  of  these  five  is  causally  or 
logically  incompatible. 

B.  If  (1)  were  false,  O  would  not  be  morally  responsible 
for  the  event  described. 

C.  Hence  neither  (2),  nor  (3),  (4),  nor  (5)  is  a  sufficient 
condition  for  responsibility;  nor  are  these  four  together  suffi- 
cient, except  as  they  may  presuppose  (1). 

D.  But  (1),  (2),  (3),  (4),  and  (5)  are  each  a  necessary 
condition  for  moral  responsibility  for  this  event,  and 

E.  Together  they  are  sufficient. 

If  one  denies  E  one  must,  I  believe,  either  deny  B,  as 
Edwards  and  Hospers  do  not,  or  else  deny  A,  which  would 
seem  arbitrary  and  implausible. 

Chapter    16 

Commera   Seiise  @n4   Beyond 
Paul  Weiss,  Yale  University 

A  GOOD  DEAL  of  Contemporary  discussion  of  the  problem  of 
determinism  and  freedom  rests  on  a  number  of  unexamined 
but  rather  dubious  assumptions.  No  untU  these  are  brought 
to  the  fore,  and  either  modified  or  replaced,  can  there,  I  think, 
be  much  hope  of  progress  toward  the  solution  of  this  per- 
plexing basic  issue.  One  of  the  conspicuous  virtues  of  Mr. 
Blanshard's  and  Mr.  Black's  papers  is  that  they  so  evidently 
make  these  assumptions.  Despite  their  apparent  difference  in 
outlook  and  conclusion,  the  two  are  substantially  in  accord. 
Their  quarrel  is  an  intramural  one;  the  basic  issue  is  blurred 
and  avoided  by  both  with  equal  success. 

A  surprisingly  large  group  of  thinkers  today  suppose  that 
untutored  common  sense  is  beyond  legitimate  criticism.  Many 
of  those  who  make  this  assumption  deny  that  philosophy  has 
any  problems  of  its  own.  There  is,  according  to  them,  only  the 
problem  of  understanding  how  it  is  that  philosophers  should 
think  there  are  problems.  Mr.  Blanshard  and  Mr.  Black  are 
happily  free  of  this  folly,  but  they,  like  the  others,  are  in 
accord  in  their  acceptance  of  the  testimony  of  untutored  com- 
mon sense.  But  it  is  surely  the  case  that  there  is  no  single 
coherent,  consistent  body  of  common-sense  truth.  The  com- 
mon-sense man,  whether  don  or  plain  citizen,  mixes  shrewd 
observation  and  practical  wisdom  with  folly,  superstition, 
prejudice,  and  convention.  Men  of  good  common  sense  to- 
day believe  in  the  efficacy  of  individual  prayers,  in  the  wisdom 
of  having  ministers  of  warring  nations  look  to  God  for  aid, 
in  mental  telepathy,  in  a  double  sexual  standard,  in  thrift,  in 
the  agreement  and  profundity  of  scientists,  and  so  on.  It  is 
good  common  sense  to  claim  that  chalk  is  white  because  it 
is  seen  to  be  so.  But  when  twilight  comes  and  the  chalk  ap- 
pears grayish  it  is  also  good  common  sense  to  insist  that  the 
chalk  remains  white,  though  it  is  seen  not  to  be.  The  state- 
ment "If  I  don't  wear  rubbers  when  it  rains,  I'll  catch  cold" 


232    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

is  for  many  a  robust  common-sense  man  as  root  and  firm  as 
any  other  and  could  be  treated  as  a  paradigm. 

Any  view  that  wholly  abandons  common  sense  is  at  best 
a  fiction  or  a  fantasy.  Any  view  that  refuses  to  examine  it  is 
at  best  uncritical  and  dogmatic.  Reflection  and  reason  require 
one  to  stand  somewhere  between  these  two  extremes.  Taking 
into  account  whatever  else  needs  explanation,  one  should  try 
to  forgo  accounts  that  do  maximum  justice  to  what  is  daily 
experienced.  This  maximum  justice  is  consistent  with  the 
abandonment  of  this  or  that  phase  of  common  sense  if  it  is  in 
conflict  with  a  larger  body  of  coherent,  clarified  knowledge. 
We  ought  to  begin  with  some  such  simple  fact  as  that  a  man 
acts  or,  more  specifically,  that  certain  events  ensue  upon  his 
behaving  in  certain  ways  and,  as  experience  shows,  do  not 
ensue  when  he  does  not  so  act.  We  will  then  not  know  yet 
whether  the  act  was  freshly  initiated  and  freely  carried  out. 
To  achieve  this  knowledge  we  go  beyond  common  sense  in 
order  to  obtain  more  abstract,  consistent,  and  comprehensive 
accounts  than  common  sense  can  provide. 

It  is  good  common  sense  to  say  that  whatever  occurs  is  de- 
termined, and  it  is  good  common  sense  to  say  that  men  act 
freely.  Were  a  systematic  treatment  of  man  in  his  diverse  en- 
terprises and  an  understanding  of  time,  motion,  causation, 
mathematics,  and  science  to  make  determinism  the  most  co- 
herent and  illuminating  outlook,  we  should  have  to  conclude 
that,  though  common  sense  often  says  that  a  man  acts  freely, 
this  would  have  to  be  understood  merely  as  shorthand  for  the 
remark  that  he  is  the  occasion,  or  the  most  proximate  source, 
of  an  energy  expended  for  the  transformation  of  some  objec- 
tive combination  of  facts.  On  the  other  hand,  if  a  satisfactory 
account  of  man  and  these  other  matters  required  an  acknowl- 
edgement of  an  element  of  chance,  novelty,  or  freedom  in 
the  universe,  we  should  have  to  conclude  that  the  Sequent 
common-sense  assertion  that  all  acts  are  determined  reflects 
the  failure  of  common  sense  to  make  use  of  fine  discrimina- 
tions, its  refusal  to  pursue  reflections,  and  its  incapacity  to 
reason  in  the  precise  fashion  that  is  necessary  if  subtle  truths 
are  to  be  grasped. 

The  contention  that  men  are  determined  and  the  contention 
that  they  are  free  seem  opposed.  They  are  not.  Determinism 
applies  to  what  has  happened  when  all  the  conditions  are 
already  present  and  fulfilled.  Freedom  applies  to  what  is  hap- 
pening and  will  happen;  it  concerns  the  creation  of  new  con- 

Common  Sense  and  Beyond    /    233 

ditions  and  thus  of  consequences  that  until  then  have  not 
been  necessitated. 


Most  discussions  of  freedom  do  not  distinguish  among  ( 1 ) 
freedom  from,  (2)  freedom  to,  (3)  freedom  for,  and  (4) 
freedom  with. 

1.  Whenever  men  are  subject  to  unusual  or  unconventional 
restraints  we  think  of  them  as  being  compelled;  when  those 
constraints  are  removed  we  think  of  them  as  freed,  and  speak 
of  them  as  free.  Thus  we  say  that  the  released  slave  is  a  free 

2.  Freedom  to  is  the  power  to  act  either  inwardly  as  a 
being  of  intent  or  outwardly  as  one  who  can  publicly  express 
his  wishes  or  carry  out  his  obligations.  Thus  we  say  that  he 
who  wishes  to  take  drugs,  and  can,  is  free  to  take  them;  and 
that  he  who  ought  to  pay  his  debts  and  has  the  money  to  do 
so  is  free  to  pay  them. 

3.  Freedom  for  is  the  power  to  commit  oneself  to  an  end 
and  to  work  to  bring  it  about.  This  end  may  be  set  by  society 
or  the  state;  one's  commitment  to  it  might  be  a  function  of 
heredity  and  training.  But  the  capacity  to  put  oneself  in  a 
position  to  focus  on  this  end  and  engage  in  activity  to  bring 
it  about  is  to  have  a  freedom  for.  Thus  we  say  that  men  are 
at  their  best  when  they  have  been  made  free  for  a  civilized  life 
of  leisure. 

4.  Finally,  we  are  men  in  a  society  and  men  in  a  cosmos, 
and  whatever  freedom  we  may  express  is  largely  futile  or 
frustrated  if  it  does  not  intermesh  with  that  exercised  by 
others.  Thus  we  say  that  we  are  genuinely  free  only  when  we 
are  in  harmony  with  equally  free  fellow  men. 

Each  of  these  types  of  freedom  has  a  number  of  distinct 
cases.  Most  interesting  perhaps  are  those  that  fall  under  the 
second  and  third  types,  for  these  are  most  germane  to  ques- 
tions of  morality  and  ethics.  It  is  most  helpful,  I  think,  to 
distinguish  among  freedom  of  preference,  of  choice,  and  of 
will.  Freedom  of  preference  refers  to  the  selection  of  some 
means  to  an  accepted  goal,  good  or  bad.  Freedom  of  choice 
concerns  the  formation  of  a  single  unity  of  means  and  end, 
where  the  end  promises  to  make  good  whatever  loss  in  value 
the  means  involve.  Freedom  of  will,  finally,  is  related  to  the 
adoption  of  a  final  prescriptive  good  in  such  a  way  as  to 
require  a  fresh  approach  to  whatever  means  there  are.  Free- 
dom of  preference  allows  for  a  determinism  dictating  which 

234     /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

among  a  number  of  goals  will  be  found  most  agreeable,  and 
which  means  most  appealing;  it  is  a  freedom  connected  with 
the  joining  of  goals  and  alternative  means,  with  a  consequent 
mutual  alteration  in  their  import  and  a  possible  substitution  of 
means.  Freedom  of  choice  allows  for  a  determinism  dictating 
which  means  will  be  favored;  but  it  also  requires  a  freedom 
through  which  a  compensating  end  is  adopted  and  the  means 
previously  favored  re-evaluated  and  perhaps  rejected.  Finally, 
freedom  of  will  allows  for  a  determinism  that  dictates  why, 
and  perhaps  even  when,  the  will  should  be  exercised,  while 
leaving  free  the  exercise  of  the  will  in  this  way  or  that,  with 
this  or  that  consequence. 

There  are  surely  other  meanings  of  freedom  besides  these. 
But  enough  has  been  indicated,  perhaps,  to  show  that  we  can- 
not settle  the  problem  of  determinism  and  freedom  until  we 
have  decided  just  what  type  of  freedom,  and  thus  what  anti- 
thetical sense  of  determinism,  we  wish  to  consider. 


It  is  commonly  assumed  that  prediction  and  determinism 
are  either  equivalent  or  identical,  or  that  one  follows  neces- 
sarily from  the  other.  But  none  of  these  suppositions  are  cor- 
rect. Prediction  is  a  prediction,  a  saying  in  advance  what  is  to 
ensue.  In  the  ideal  case  it  consists  in  the  deduction,  through 
the  agency  of  mathematics  and  logic,  of  the  nature  of  the 
effect  that  rationally  follows  from  the  given  condition.  Now, 
all  deductions  are  in  terms  of  generalities,  of  expressions  that 
lack  the  completeness  and  concreteness  characteristic  of  ac- 
tual occurrences.  Predictions  thus  relate  only  to  a  phase,  an 
aspect,  of  the  world,  to  something  generic,  to  be  instanced  by 
what  in  fact  occurs.  The  occurrence  of  the  instance  is  not 
encompassed  in  the  prediction;  it  could  have  been  determin- 
istically  produced,  though  in  that  case  we  should  not  have 
been  able  to  say  anything  about  it  in  advance,  or  even  per- 
haps when  it  occurred.  Conversely,  predictability  is  compati- 
ble with  freedom.  Predictability,  since  it  concerns  only  kinds 
of  things,  the  generic  features,  the  merely  possible,  allows 
for  the  free  occurrence  of  this  or  that  particular  instance. 

Most  thinkers  confuse  the  problem  of  prediction  with  that 
of  determinism  because  they  are  phenomenologists  in  doc- 
trine or  in  intent,  and  suppose  that  what  scientists  affirm  to 
be  real,  or  what  common  sense  observes,  is  all  there  is  in  the 
universe.  Yet  a  scientific  account  that  requires  the  acknowl- 
edgement of  determinacies  or  indeterminacies  in  the  world 

Ck>inmon  Sense  and  Beyond    /    235 

tells  us  nothing  about  the  nature  of  things,  but  only  about 
that  phase  of  existence  isolated  and  pursued  in  common  ways 
by  a  community  of  thinkers.  In  the  end  we  have  no  right  to 
say  that  anything  completely  beyond  all  knowledge  is  real. 
But  it  does  not  follow  that  what  is  beyond  the  reach  of  sci- 
entific instruments,  scientific  needs,  scientific  procedures,  and 
scientific  tests  is  beyond  the  reach  of  aU  cognition  and  out- 
side the  pale  of  meaningful  and  illuminating  discourse.  Poetic 
insight,  dialectical  deduction,  speculative  construction,  sys- 
tematic explanation  all  make  claims  not  to  be  dismissed  out 
of  hand.  The  concurrence  of  these  is  required  if  we  are  to 
know  whether  determinism  or  freedom  holds  sway  in  this 

A  scientific  indeterminism  is  compatible  with  an  ontological 
determinism;  a  scientific  determinism  is  compatible  with  an 
ontological  indeterminism.  The  wise  scientist  makes  no  claim 
that  he  is  able  to  deal  with  or  to  know  anything  about  the 
universe  outside  the  scope  of  his  language,  instruments, 
experiments,  or  criteria.  More  often  than  not  it  is  the  philoso- 
pher who  hurries  to  convert  a  laudable  scientific  methodologi- 
cal caution  into  an  unwarranted  claim  that  what  science  does 
not  know  is  either  not  knowable  or  nonexistent,  and  who 
makes  the  uncritical  contention  that  what  science  treats  as  a 
desirable  supposition  or  a  genuine  fact  is  to  be  urged  as  a 
solid  and  unquestionable  basic  truth. 


The  importance  of  the  problem  of  ethical  responsibility 
makes  most  thinkers  attend  to  the  question  of  freedom  only 
as  it  relates  to  man.  Almost  all  writers  in  the  western  world 
today  are  clearly,  and  sometimes  even  outspokenly,  anthro- 
pocentric.  Confident  that  the  world  of  nature  is  thoroughly 
determined  (except  perhaps  in  the  region  of  quanta  phenom- 
ena), they  insist  that  man,  at  least  if  ethics  is  to  have  any 
meaning  and  responsibility  a  locus,  is  somehow  free.  But  their 
position  involves  the  cutting  off  of  man  from  nature.  It  is  a 
view  that  is  incompatible  with  the  theory  of  evolution,  and 
in  the  end  it  deals  with  man  as  though  he  were  "a  kingdom 
in  a  kindgdom."  To  be  sure,  man  is  different  from  other 
beings;  he  has  and  can  exercise  powers  denied  to  them.  But 
the  powers  that  they  do  have  must  fall  under  categories  com- 
prehending his,  if  both  he  and  they  are  to  be  parts  of  the  same 

236    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

The  nature  of  causation  has  been  oversimplified  to  make  it 
seem  as  if  there  were  only  two  factors  to  consider,  the  cause 
and  the  effect.  As  a  consequence  the  discussion  of  causation 
has  been  riddled  with  paradox. 

A  cause  must  precede  its  effect.  That  is  why  history  can 
cover  an  extensive  stretch  of  time.  This  means  that  the  cause 
cannot  necessitate  the  effect.  If  it  did,  the  effect  would  exist 
when  the  cause  did.  What  is  normally  termed  a  cause  is  only 
an  antecedent  condition.  The  nature  of  the  effect  is  defined 
by  it,  and  can  often  be  predicted  in  the  light  of  what  we 
know  of  it.  But  the  cause  does  not  produce  the  effect  that  in 
fact  ensues.  The  actual  effect  comes  about  as  the  result  of  an 
activity  that,  taking  its  start  with  the  cause,  ends  by  producing 
an  instance  of  the  predictable  effect.  The  causal  situation, 
then,  has  not  two  but  three  components;  the  cause,  the  process 
of  production,  and  the  effect.  Since  freedom  is  the  doing  of 
something  beyond  the  determination  by  a  cause,  the  process 
of  production  is  evidently  free.  An  actual  effect  is  freely 
produced  inside  a  frame  that  necessarily  binds  together  an 
antecedent  cause  and  a  predictable  type  of  effect. 

These  observations,  it  is  hoped,  may  suffice  to  indicate  that 
we  ought  not  to  be  content  with  uncriticized  common  sense, 
with  the  hypotheses  or  conclusions  of  the  sciences,  or  with 
the  traditional  philosophic  formulations  of  the  problem  of 
determinism.  We  ought  to  take  our  start  with  common-sense 
items,  examine  them  critically,  and  then  move  on  to  what 
they  presuppose;  that  is,  to  a  systematic  account  encompass- 
ing man  and  nature  and  whatever  else  there  is.  If  we  are 
willing  to  make  provision  for  every  facet  of  being  and  knowl- 
edge, we  shall  soon  find  that  no  untutored  common  sense,  no 
rationalism,  no  anthropocentrism,  no  simple  empiricism  or 
positivism,  no  theory  of  a  radical  opposition  between  deter- 
minism and  freedom,  will  do  justice  to  the  facts  or  to  the 
need  to  get  a  coherent  explanation  of  them. 

Chapter    1 7 

H.  Van  Rensselar  Wilson,  Brooklyn  College 

There  are  two  kinds  of  problems  connected  with  causation: 
epistemological  problems  and  ontological  or  metaphysical 
problems.  Although  they  are  interrelated  in  various  ways,  it  is 
possible  for  purposes  of  analysis  to  keep  them  relatively  dis- 
tinct, and  in  my  opinion  it  is  important  that  confusion  be- 
tween them  be  avoided  so  far  as  possible.  It  therefore  strikes 
me  as  unfortunate  to  speak  (as  Professor  Barrett  does)  as 
though  predictability  (an  epistemological  concept)  were  syn- 
onymous with  causal  necessity  (an  ontological  concept).  Lack 
of  causal  necessity  would  certainly  entail  lack  of  predicta- 
bility; but  I  see  no  reason  to  assume  that  lack  of  predictability 
entails  lack  of  causal  necessity.  The  fact  that  the  epistemo- 
logical difficulties  in  sociological,  psychological,  and  many 
biological  situations  preclude  our  knowing  what  all  the  spe- 
cific relevant  causal  factors  are  in  a  particular  case  does  not 
warrant  the  conclusion  that  there  are  none.  Present  inability 
to  specify  the  values  of  a  variable  can  hardly  be  construed  as 
evidence  that  no  such  values  exist. 

Professor  Black  used  a  very  brief  illustration  that  has  a 
bearing  on  this  point.  He  remarked  that  when  a  penny  is 
tossed  into  the  air  it  has  to  come  down,  but  it  does  not  have 
to  come  down  tails.  Now,  I  have  no  quarrel  with  this  remark 
if  it  is  simply  meant  to  assert  two  epistemological  proposi- 
tions: (1)  knowing  only  that  the  penny  was  tossed  up,  but 
not  knowing  in  what  precise  direction,  with  what  precise 
force,  with  what  kinds  of  spin,  how  it  lay  in  my  hand  before- 
hand, what  kind  of  surface  it  will  strike,  and  so  on,  we  are 
warranted  in  asserting  (without  specifying  when,  where,  or 
how)  that  it  has  to  come  down;  but  (2)  in  the  absence  of 
fuller  information  neither  the  statement  "It  has  to  come  down 
heads"  nor  the  statement  "It  has  to  come  down  tails"  is  a 
warranted  assertion.  But  in  the  context  of  a  discussion  of 
causal  determinism  one  tends  to  construe  Professor  Black's 
remark  as  denying  that  there  is  causal  necessity  in  a  particu- 


238    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

lar  case  of  the  penny's  coming  down  tails,  which  is  a  very 
different  matter.  The  difficulties  of  measuring  even  approxi- 
mately the  momentum  and  spin  of  a  tossed  penny — to  say 
nothing  of  doing  so  precisely  enough  for  safe  prediction — are 
obvious.  But  surely  this  does  not  alter  the  fact  that,  irrespec- 
tive of  anyone's  knowledge  or  lack  of  it,  the  penny  has  a 
specific  momentum  and  spin,  and  that  if  all  the  data  were 
precisely  known  it  would  be  clear  that  the  penny  "has  to'.' 
come  down  the  way  it  does. 

The  fact  that  five  hundred  years  ago  no  one  could  have 
computed  the  penny's  trajectory  even  if  precise  data  had  been 
available,  whereas  today  we  can,  is  beside  the  point,  of  course. 
If  the  trajectory  is  admittedly  necessitated  by  computable 
causal  factors  today,  then  similar  trajectories  were  always 
necessitated.  The  unavoidable  analogy  between  (1)  a  fif- 
teenth-century physicist  in  relation  to  today's  physicist  and 
(2)  today's  neurologist  (let  us  say)  in  relation  to  an  imagin- 
able twenty-fifth-century  neurologist  needs  no  elaboration. 
The  analogy  proves  nothing,  to  be  sure;  but  it  should  give  us 
pause,  restraining  our  tendency  to  equate  absence  of  knowl- 
edge of  precise  data  and  formulas  with  absence  of  existence 
of  precise  states  of  affairs  and  objective  correlations  in  fields 
where  they  are  not  currently  specifiable. 

Causal  necessity  in  a  particular  case,  I  would  contend,  is 
holistic  with  respect  to  the  relevant  controlling  factors  rather 
than  fragmental  with  respect  to  those  factors;  that  is,  causal 
necessity  is  a  concept  that  is  meaningful  only  as  a  function  of 
all  the  relevant  causal  factors  (material,  formal,  and  efficient), 
whether  known  or  unknown,  taken  collectively.  Fragmentally 
(i.e.,  when  not  even  one  relevant  factor  is  taken  account  of) 
neither  assertion  nor  denial  of  causal  necessity  in  a  given  case 
would  be  warranted,  although  one  could  certainly  form 
hypotheses,  for  conceivable  future  testing,  about  what  sorts 
of  currently  unavailable  data  would  need  to  become  available 
in  order  to  complete  the  picture.  A  basic  heuristic  postulate 
for  determinism  is  that  it  is  worth  while  without  limit  to 
fonnulate  and  (as  it  becomes  possible)  to  test  experimentally 
such  hypotheses  regarding  currently  missing  causal  factors, 
since  (the  determinist  assumes)  every  instance  of  apparent 
lack  of  causal  necessity  is  an  instance  of  fragmental  knowl- 
edge of  the  relevant  causal  factors.  The  pragmatic  effects  on 
the  future  development  of  science  of  proceeding  (without 
proof)  as  if  this  assumption  were  true  and  of  proceeding  as  if 
it  were  false  are  quite  evident. 

On  Causation     /    239 

Professor  Blanshard's  suggestion  that  there  are  levels  of 
causation  is  one  with  which  I  agree,  if  I  may  construe  it  as 
referring  primarily  to  the  levels  of  complexity  of  the  relevant 
causal  factors  in  various  types  of  situations,  and  secondarily 
to  the  levels  of  concomitant  epistemological  difficulty  in  ascer- 
taining without  error  or  omission  (1)  what  all  the  relevant 
factors  are  about  which  specific  information  is  needed  before 
we  can  specify  the  holistic  causal  necessity  in  such  situations, 
(2)  the  specific  formulas  that  would  adequately  formulate 
the  relevant  causal  laws,  and  (3)  the  precise  value  of  the 
variables  to  be  substituted  in  the  relevant  formulas  in  a  par- 
ticular case.  For  the  tossed  penny  most  of  the  data  that 
would  be  relevant  at  a  more  specific  level  are  irrelevant  when 
we  only  wish  to  assert  nonspecifically  that  it  must  come  down 
sometime,  somewhere,  somehow.  We  may  therefore  ignore 
such  data  and  still  assert  causal  necessity  without  using  the 
concept  (at  this  level)  fragmentally. 

When  we  assert  that  there  is  holistic  causal  necessity  in  the 
penny's  coming  down  tails  in  a  specific  case,  the  domain  of 
relevance  is  much  vaster  and  the  epistemological  difficulties 
far  greater,  but  the  relevant  formulas  and  data  are  still  theoret- 
ically within  the  scope  of  current  physics  and  current  observa- 
bility. In  asking,  however,  whether  the  tosser  "had  to"  decide 
to  toss  the  penny  one  enters  a  level  of  complexity  and  diffi- 
culty where  only  fragmental  consideration  of  the  relevant 
factors  is  currently  possible,  and  from  fragmental  considera- 
tion no  specifiable  necessity  can  emerge,  any  more  than  it 
could  from  a  fragmental  consideration  of  the  factors  in  the 
penny's  trajectory.  This  being  the  case,  the  pertinent  questions 
would  seem  to  be  not  those  about  current  knowledge  and 
predictability  but  rather  the  frankly  speculative,  as  yet  un- 
tested, hypotheses  and  assumptions  about  the  factors  that 
still  elude  us,  entailing  a  projected  program  of  further  inquiry 
that  is  believed  (without  proof,  but  equally  without  disproof) 
to  be  worth  pursuing  in  the  hope  of  gradually  reducing  our 
ignorance.  In  these  terms  I  agree  with  Professor  Blanshard  (as 
I  understand  him)  that  to  assume,  for  animate  and  human 
and  societal  cases  as  for  inanimate  cases,  that  holistic  causal 
necessity  exists,  as  a  function  not  merely  of  some  or  most  but 
collectively  of  all  the  revelant  causal  factors  involved  (regard- 
less of  their  complexity  and  our  current  inability  to  specify 
them  exhaustively),  makes  more  sense  than  it  does  to  assume, 
as  indeterminists  do,  that  no  such  causal  necessity  exists  even 
as  a  function  of  all  the  relevant  causal  factors,  known  and 

240    /     Detenninism  and  Freedom 

unknown,  or  to  assume  (as  Professor  Barrett  appears  to  do) 
that  absence  of  specifiable  causal  necessity  in  terms  of  a 
fragmental  consideration  of  those  factors  that  happen  to  be 
currently  known  is  to  be  equated  with  absence  of  causal 
necessity  altogether. 


We  would  all  agree,  I  suppose,  that  the  verb  "to  determine" 
has  two  independent  meanings  which  are  not  to  be  confused: 
(1)  to  ascertain,  or  obtain  information  about;  and  (2)  to 
necessitate,  or  to  be  related  to  a  dependent  variable  in  such 
a  way  as  to  render  all  but  one  of  its  values  impossible.  "Cur- 
rently ascertainable"  is  surely  not  synonymous  with  "existing 
in  a  definite  state,"  nor  is  "epistemologically  determinable" 
synonymous  with  "ontologically  determinate."  And  yet  we 
seem  to  find  ourselves  speaking  at  times  almost  as  if  "having 
no  currently  measurable  difference"  were  synonymous  with 
"having  absolutely  no  difference,"  and  even  as  if  "present 
human  inability  to  determine  (ascertain)  the  state  of  affairs" 
were  synonymous  with  "ontological  indeterminacy  of  the  state 
of  affairs." 

Possibly  the  trouble  arises  from  an  unfortunate  semantic 
assumption  that  meaningful  terms  include  only  those  for 
which  operational  tests  are  currently  performable  and  exclude 
those  for  which  such  tests  are  conceived  only  and  not  cur- 
rently feasible  to  perform.  But  so  to  restrict  meaning  is  dis- 
astrous to  theoretical  speculation.  To  forbid,  by  arbitrary 
semantic  fiat,  hypothetical  discussion  of  situations  that  cur- 
rently preclude  our  ascertaining  precise  values  for  the  rele- 
vant variables,  or  for  which  we  have  not  yet  been  able  to 
formulate  any  applicable  differential  equations,  would  seem 
to  exhibit  a  defeatist  attitude  that  is  utterly  foreign  to  the 
history  of  science. 

When  Professor  Lande  speaks  about  dropping  ball  bearings 
from  a  chute  onto  a  knife  edge,  he  seems  to  make  the  tacit 
assumption  that  the  several  occurrences  are  mathematically 
identical,  except  for  the  random  falling  to  left  and  right.  He 
would  undoubtedly  agree,  however,  that  the  most  that  could 
be  validly  asserted  about  the  objective  state  of  affairs  is  that 
the  actual  differences  (if  any)  among  the  occurrences  are  too 
slight  to  be  detected  by  available  measuring  devices.  But  does 
this  justify  the  assumption  that  there  are  no  differences? 
Someone  has  suggested  performing  the  experiment  in  a  vac- 
uum to  avoid  stray  currents  of  air,  I  agree.  But  that  is  not 

On  Causation     /    241 

sufficient.  Slight  but  definite  deviations  from  mathematical 
sphericity  or  from  absolutely  homogeneous  density,  even  if 
undetectable  by  available  instruments,  would  presumably 
affect  the  results,  and  even  if  such  factors  were  completely 
controllable,  the  knife  edge  itself  would  lose  a  few  molecules 
of  material  each  time  a  ball  struck  it  and  the  next  ball  would 
therefore  strike  a  knife  edge  of  slightly  different  shape.  Unless 
one  insists  on  equating  "below  the  threshold  of  detectability 
with  currently  available  instruments"  with  "mathematically 
infinitesimal,"  there  is  no  relevance  to  the  objection  that  in- 
finitesimal differences  in  the  conditions  could  not  account  for 
finite  differences  in  the  outcome.  I  see  no  logical  inconsistency 
in  positing  the  hypothesis  that  in  such  an  experiment  there  is 
no  randomness  in  the  outcome  of  really  identical  events,  but 
varying  behavior  under  varjdng  conditions  in  accordance  with 
perfectly  definite  formulas — a  hypothesis  that  will  become 
progressively  testable  as  measuring  techniques  become  pro- 
gressively more  refined.  No  new  or  "hidden"  variables  are 
here  involved,  but  merely  slight,  uncontrolled  differences  in 
the  values  of  the  familiar  variables. 

These  slight,  imcontroUed  differences  in  the  conditions  are, 
I  suppose,  the  "phantom  knife  edge  suspended  above  the 
actual  knife  edge,"  to  which  Professor  Land6  alluded.  But  I 
see  no  other  way  out  without  a  quite  needless  retreat  from 
essential  scientific  attitudes.  A  basic  programmatic  decision 
is  involved.  One  alternative  is  to  accept  "inherent  randomness 
of  nature"  as  an  explanation  of  the  observed  facts,  in  which 
case  no  program  of  further  experimentation  and  theoretical 
refinement  is  called  for,  since  one  already  has  the  "explana- 
tion," such  as  it  is.  The  other  alternative  is  to  act  upon  a  heu- 
ristic postulate  that  construes  the  phenomenon  of  apparent 
randomness,  wherever  observed  and  quite  unconditionally,  as 
a  challenge  to  the  experimenter  to  refine  his  measurements  or 
his  theory  or  both  imtil  determinate  orderliness  replaces  the 
randomness — assuming  that  eventually  it  will,  if  he  and  his 
successors  persist.  Instead  of  interpreting  this  assumption  (as 
Professor  Munitz  seems  to  do)  as  implying  a  belief  that  the 
universe  is  like  a  humanly  constructed  "puzzle"  that  one  as- 
sumes to  have  a  "solution"  merely  because  puzzles  are  always 
constructed  that  way,  I  would  interpret  it  as  inextricably 
involved  in  the  basic  attitude  of  scientific  curiosity  itself, 
without  which  there  would  never  have  been  any  science  and 
in  the  absence  of  which  further  scientific  advancement  would 
stop  cold.  Without  celestial  mechanics  the  places  where  sue- 

242    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

cessive  solar  eclipses  are  visible  give  every  appearance  of 
randomness.  Without  meteorology  the  weather  has  every 
appearance  of  randomness.  Is  it  not  scientific  defeatism  to 
assume  that  contemporary  types  of  randomness  are  more  in- 
vincible than  these? 

At  the  risk  of  appearing  utterly  stupid  to  the  experts  in 
quantum  mechanics,  I  must  still  ask,  How  does  anyone  know, 
beyond  all  doubt,  that  every  photon  is  identical  with  every 
other  photon?  Not  long  ago  we  thought  that  every  hydrogen 
atom  was  identical  with  every  other,  but  then  we  discovered 
deuterium  and  tritium.  Is  there  any  logical  absurdity  in  the 
hypothesis  that  when  and  if  we  reach  a  higher  degree  of  pre- 
cision we  shall  find  (as  often  in  the  past)  our  current  instances 
of  apparent  randomness  exhibiting  determinate  order  after 

Of  course  we  might  then  discover  new  instances  of  appar- 
ent randomness  at  the  new  level,  and  thus  be  faced  with  the 
same  choice  again — either  admit  defeat  and  accept  "inherent 
randomness  of  nature"  as  the  answer  or  act  again  on  the 
former  heuristic  postulate.  But  this  should  not  surpise  us.  The 
"erratic"  orbits  of  Uranus  and  then  of  Neptune  were  not 
treated  as  instances  of  randomness  but  as  challenges.  If  some- 
time, with  more  precise  measurements,  we  find  that  Pluto  too 
is  behaving  in  random  fashion,  would  we  quit  or  proceed  as 
before?  Determinists  and  indeterminists  might  appear  to 
sanction  opposite  answers  to  such  a  question. 


I  make  only  two  very  brief  comments  on  the  papers  of 
Edwards  and  Hospers. 

1.  There  may  be  some  danger  of  mistakenly  supposing 
that  an  actual  cause  of  an  effect  is  somehow  less  a  cause  if  it 
can  be  shown  to  have  prior  causes  of  its  own.  But  this  would 
be  like  supposing  that  I  am  somehow  less  the  father  of  my 
children  because  I  in  turn  have  a  father.  If  I  am  really  the 
cause  of  my  decisions,  I  am  no  less  so  after  it  is  shown  that, 
in  addition  to  being  the  cause  of  these  and  other  effects,  I  am 
also  the  product  of  earlier  causes.  Whatever  moral  responsi- 
bility I  have  for  my  decisions,  I  have  as  their  proximate  cause, 
and  the  responsibility  is  not  diminished  by  showing  that  re- 
sponsible selves  (as  well  as  irresponsible  selves)  have  causes. 

2.  The  relation  of  one's  "self"  or  character  to  one's  de- 
cisions and  actions  is  sometimes  such  that  (a)  a  modification 
of  the  self  would  result  in  a  modification  of  future  behavior 

On  Causation    /    243 

in  similar  sitiiations,  and  the  self  is  modifiable  by  praise, 
blame,  and  other  manifestations  of  approval  and  disapproval 
from  other  persons  (including  courts  of  law)  and  from  one's 
own  conscience;  while  at  other  times  it  is  such  that  (b)  either 
the  self  is  not  thus  modifiable,  or  such  modification  would 
not  result  in  modified  future  behavior.  In  ordinary  language 
we  call  the  person  "responsible"  in  case  a  and  "not  respon- 
sible" in  case  b.  If  Professors  Edwards  and  Hospers  are  as- 
serting that  all  human  actions  come  under  category  b,  then 
I  think  the  empirical  facts  are  clearly  against  them.  On  the 
other  hand,  if  they  agree  that  there  are  actions  that  come 
under  category  a  but  simply  refuse  to  call  such  actions  "re- 
sponsible," then  I  think  linguistic  usage  is  against  them.  Also, 
I  think  they  would  then  be  imder  obligation  to  introduce  some 
new  terms  of  their  own  as  a  translation  of  the  quite  essential 
distinction  between  a  and  b,  which  otherwise  seems  to  dis- 



Agreement,  method  of,  165 

Ambiguity,  202 

Analysis,  96,  160,  169 

Analytic:  expressions,  172n, 
217;  implication,  166,  217; 
philosophy,  201 

Anthropology,  211 

Aristotle,  30,  128,  225,  228-29 

Art,  51-2 

Association  of  ideas,  26,  28 

Augustine,  St.,  190 

Austin,  J.  L.,  105 

Avoidability:  as  criterion  of  re- 
sponsibility, 157ff,  214-16; 
conditional,  158 

Axiom:  of  retribution,  193;  of 
scientific  method,  69,  70 

Ayer,  A.  J.,  118,  140-41 

Barrett,  W.,  46,  237,  240 
Barth,  K.,  190 
Beardsley,  E.  L.,  145 
Benfey,  O.  T„  67n 
Bentham,  J.,  105,  106 
Bergler,  E.,  132n 
Bergson,  H.,  46 
Black,  M.,  31,  46,  181,  196-97, 

201ff,  216-17,  231,  237 
Blanshard,    B.,    19,    47ff,    158, 

170ff,    181-82,    196-97,    207, 

212ff,  222,  231,  239 
Bohm,  D.,  57 
Bohr,  N.,  57flF,  89 
Bom,  M.,  22,  57ff,  89 
Boundary  and  initial  conditions, 

90-1,  185,  198,  204ff 
Bradley,  F.  H.,  118 
Brandt,  R.,  149 
Bridgman,  P.  W.,  57,  76ff,  155, 

183ff,  197-98,  201,  210 

Bunge,  M.,  57,  69ff 

Calvin,  190 

Campbell.  C.  A.,  122-23,  146- 
47,  188-89,  215 

Carnap,  R.,  26 

Cassirer,  E.,  67-8 

Causality:  and  anthropomorph- 
ism, 37ff,  139-40;  and  con- 
stant conjunction,  26ff,  40-1, 
163ff,  202ff;  and  "making 
something  happen,"  3  Iff;  def- 
nition  of,  36ff,  130,  163ff, 
197,  202ff,  215-16,  236ff; 
language  of,  43-4;  levels  of, 
26ff,  146ff,  173-74,  239;  me- 
chanical, 202-3;  mental,  26, 
27,  118ff,  126ff,  167-68,  177, 
226;  metaphysical,  39,  227ff; 
physical,  22ff,  37ff,  58ff,  81, 
83ff,  163ff,  210ff;  proximate, 
164;  related  to  choice,  37, 
110,  llSflF,  147-48,  177;  re- 
lated to  punishment,  107-8, 
156;  tcleological,  202ff 

Causal  laws,  26,  58ff,  77,  95-6, 
122,  164,  171-72,  228,  239 

Chance:  in  history,  53;  in  phys- 
ics, 65-6,  83-4,  185,  197-98, 

Change,  43;  as  criterion  of  re- 
sponsibility, 131;  in  definition 
of  "cause,"  164-65,  217;  in 
definition  of  "event,"  19 

Chisholm,  R.  W.,  157 

Choice:  and  disposition,  213; 
eflScacy  of,  as  maximized  by 
law,  109ff;  freedom  of,  20-1, 
95n,  119ff,  126ff,  157-58, 
167ff.  172,  176flf,  187ff,  212ff, 


248    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

232ff;  meaning  of,  21;  system 
of,  in  criminal  law,  109ff.  See 
also  Freedom 

Coleridge,  S.  T.,  52 

Collins,  A.,  120 

Common  sense,  183;  criticism 
of,  23  Iff 

Complementarity,  principle  of, 
61,  89 

Completeness  and  incomplete- 
ness: in  mathematics,  49;  of 
physical  knowledge,  160ff 

Compton  effect,  207 

Consumer,  194 

Continuity:  postulate  of,  88; 
continuous  creation  of  mat- 
ter, 223 

Contradiction,  in  mathematics, 

Counterf actual  conditionals,  39, 
107,  171,  217 

Creativity,  179;  in  art,  51-2;  in 
mathematics,  49,  50 

Darrow,  C,  105,  123,  138,  190 
DeBroglie,  L.,  57,  66,  71 
Deduction,  70,  205,  215,  234 
Definition:    and    undefinability, 
211;  by  stipulation,  33,  216; 
formal  and  informal,  34;  in 
quantum     theory,     81,     90, 
204fT;  ostensive,  217;  paradig- 
matic, 34ff,  201-2;  pragmatic 
criteria  of,  166 
Denotation,    161 
Determinism:   meaning  of,  20, 
44,    48-9,     81,    90-1,     160ff. 
nOff,  204ff,  224ff;  "soft"  and 
"hard,"   117ff,   126ff,    189-90, 
212ff,  224ff.  See  also  Neces- 
sity; Causality;  Predictability 
Dewey,  J.,  46,  177 
Difference,  method  of,  165 
Dignity,  as  basis  of  moral  re- 

sponsibility, 189,  228 
Dilemma,    of    moral    responsi- 
bility, 158 
Dispositions,  as  causes  of  moral 

actions,  174 
Ducasse,  C.  J.,  160 

Economy  of  threats,  doctrine 
of,  105ff 

EddLugton,  A.,  23,  24 

Edwards,  Jonathan,  117,  178 

Edwards,  P.,  117,  126,  131, 
146fT,  152,  176ff,  187ff,  193, 
199,  200,  211,  212ff,  224-25, 
230,  242-43 

Einstein,  A.,  23,  57,  64,  77ff, 
201,  206ff 

Electron:  definition  of,  73;  posi- 
tion and  velocity  of,  23-4, 
73-4,  80,  86,  161,  184 

Emergence,  166 

Entailment:  analytic  and  syn- 
thetic, 216;  in  defining  cau- 
sality, 164,  216;  of  a  theory, 

Epistemology,  202ff,  237flf 

Erewhon,  115-16 

Event:  definition  of,  19;  mental, 
26,  161-62,  181;  physical,  22, 
161,  183,  196ff,  241;  proba- 
bility of,  66;  uniqueness  of, 

Evidence:  for  determinism,  181- 
83;  for  fatalism,  absence  of, 
163;  introspective,  173-75; 
of  causal  efficacy,  31;  of  vol- 
untary action,  113,  141 

Excusing  conditions :  distin- 
guished from  invalidating 
conditions,  100;  in  law,  95ff, 
145ff,  149ff,  188ff,  193 

Fatalism,  47,  120,   162,  178-79 
Feigl,  H.,  172n,  222 

Frank,  P.,  172n,  173n,  204.  223 
Freedom:  and  indeterminism, 
19-20,  160ff,  232ff;  as  ab- 
sence of  constraint,  37,  118- 
19,  146,  167-68,  212;  as  qual- 
ity of  action,  38;  as  rational 
control,  29,  30,  189;  feeling 
or  sense  of,  20-2,  29,  173, 
182,  212,  222;  of  will,  24, 
85,  95ff,  155-56,  162,  167-68, 
178,  226,  233;  types  of,  233ff. 
See  also  Choice 
Freud,  S.,  20,  117,  128,  210 

Galileo,  79 
Galton,  F.,  21 
Generalization:    and    causal 

laws,  165;  by  abstraction,  165 
God:  and  divine  law,  122,  140; 

and  foreknowledge,  51,  180; 

and  prayer,  231 
Godel,  K.,  49-50 
Goodman,  N.,  202 
Green,  T.  H.,  118 

Habit,  related  to  moral  respon- 
sibility, 127-28,  136-37 

Hall,  A.  J.  B.,  99n,  102 

Hart,  H.  L.  A.,  95,  145-46,  188, 
193,  225 

Heisenberg,  W.,  22,  51,  57flf, 
72,  80,  89,  186,  209 

Hempel,  C.  G.,  170 

Hintz,  H.  W.,  176 

History,  unpredictability  of,  54 

Hobbes,  T.,  118 

Holbach,  P.,  117,  129 

Hook.  S.,  ix,  53,  180,  228 

Hospers,  L,  126,  148,  181ff, 
193,  199,  200,  210,  224-25, 
230,  242-43 

Housman,  A,  E.,  123-24 

Hume,  D.,  118ff,  140-41,  163- 
64,    179,  202-3 

Index    /    249 

Indeterminism,  see  Determin- 
ism; Freedom;  Choice; 

Induction:  eliminative,  218; 
role  in  causal  inference,  40 

Initial  conditions,  see  Boundary 

Insanity,  as  excusing  condition 
in  law,  105-6 

Interference  patterns,  59 

Introspection,  173-75 

James,  W.,  46,  117ff,  212 
Jennings,  H.  S.,  161n,  166 
Jones,  E.,  128 

Justice,  as  basis  of  punishment, 
102ff;  cost  of.  194 

Kant,  I.,  29,  228 

Khayydm,  Omar,  117 

Knowledge:  distinguished  from 
information,  80-1;  limits  of, 
74-5;  meaning  of,  222-23;  re- 
lated to  determinism,  163, 
205,  238ff;  related  to  legal 
responsibility,  lOOflf;  related 
to  virtue,  98ff;  spectator 
theory  of,  186 

Land6,  A.,  83,  89n,  183ff.  194, 
197-98,  223,  240-41 

Language:  causal,  3 Iff,  43ff;  of 
morals,  42,  129,  141;  ordi- 
nary and  scientific,  44,  156, 
183;  rules  of,  33ff 

Laplace,  P.  S.,  50-1,  161 

Law:  as  mechanism  for  maxi- 
mizing efficacy  of  choice, 
llOff;  causal,  see  Causal  laws; 
criminal,  95ff 

Leibnitz,  G.  W.,  87,  227 

Lemer,  A.,  193 

Levin,  M.,  133n,  138n 

250    /    Determinism  and  Freedom 

Liability,  98ff,  145ff 

Logic,  distinguished  from  ontol- 
ogy, 78.  See  also  Deduction; 
Induction;  Truth,  logical 

Lowes,  i.  L.,  52 

Mach,  E.,  90 
Marxism,  53,  114 
Materialism :    and    mechanism, 

174;  criticism  of,  25 
Mathematics:  application  of,  to 

physics,    59-60,    173,    202ff, 

240-4 1 ;    incompleteness     of, 

Matson,  W.  L,  viii,  139 
Maxwell,  C,  206,  208 
McCulloch  and  Pitts,  theory  of 

trapped  universals,  211 
Meaning:    analysis  of,   32,   96, 

160,  167;  borderline  cases  of, 

33;    criteria    of,    36-7,    240; 

epistemological,  202ff;  related 

to  culture,  68 
Meaninglessness,  24,  140ff,  187, 

Measurement,    in   physics,    61, 

Mechanics:  Newtonian,  62,  70, 

76,  90,  161-62,  198;  quantum, 

57ff,    75flf,   83ff,   90flf,    183ff, 

197ff,  201flf 
Mens  rea,  in  criminal  law,  lOlflf 
Metaphysics,  39,  158,  171,  237 
Michelson-Morley     experiment, 

Mill,  J.  S.,  118ff,  140-1,  179 
Modality,   225ff 
Moore,  G.  E.,  176,  211 
Moral    criticism,    social    utility 

of,   149fif 
Morality,  25;  as  basis  of  law, 

lOlff;  as  sense  of  duty,  29; 

feelings  of,    124,    152;  judg- 
ments of,    122ff,    146ff;  lan- 

guage of,   42.   See  also   Re- 
sponsibility,   moral 
Munitz,  M.,  76,  183,  222,  241 

Nagel,  E.,  196 

Necessity:  aesthetic,  182,  196; 
and  sufficiency,  39,  40,  164, 
165,  182,  225;  as  compulsion, 
127ff,  214;  causal,  224,  225, 
237;  conditional,  39,  40;  eco- 
nomic, 114;  etiological,  165; 
historical,  53;  logical,  27, 
120,  167,  168,  172,  180,  181, 
196,  216;  mathematical,  50; 
moral,  28;  nominal,  224; 
physical,  23,  24,  50,  203ff; 
problem  of  meaning  of,  48, 
139,  170ff,  180 

Neumann,  L  von,  63,  86-87 

Neurath,  O.,  26 

Neurosis:  definition  of,  131;  re- 
lated to  moral  responsibility, 
126ff,  146 

Newsom,  C.  V.,  15 

Newton,  L,  206ff.  See  also  Me- 
chanics, Newtonian 

Noel-Smith,  P.  H.,  118 

Nominalism,  202 

Northrop,  F.  S.  C,  201 

Oedipal  sources  of  motivation, 

Orwell,  G.,  viii 
Owen,  R.,  117 

Pap,  A.,  212 

Parameter:      "concealed,"     62; 

statistical,   198 
Peirce,  C.  S.,  46,  181 
Philosophy:   and  analysis,  203; 

distinguished    from    science, 

58,  76-7 
Photons,  59ff,   184,  242 
Physicalism,  criticism  of,  25 

Index    /    251 

Planck,  M.,  22,  57,  63,  70,  73, 
91,  209 

Plato,  115 

Poincare,  H.,  51,  63 

Popper,  K.,  78,  84n,  222 

Possibility,  causal  and  logical, 

Pragmatism,  in  scientific 
method,  78,  166,  180,  181, 
200,  238-39 

Praise  and  blame,  149ff,  168, 
177,  187ff 

Predestination,  178.  See  also 

Predictability  and  impredicta- 
bility:  in  art,  51;  in  definition 
of  determinism,  150-54,  162- 
66,  180,  234,  237;  in  every- 
day life,  54;  in  history,  53;  in 
mathematics,  48,  49;  in  phys- 
ics, 24,  50,  77ff,  85ff,  90-91, 
163,  172,  184ff;  in  psy- 
chology, 24,  51,  162;  of  psi 
function,  65 

Prediction,  disadvantages  of,  47; 
related  to  choice,  95n,  110, 
213;  role  in  science,  81,  180, 

Pre-established  harmony,  84 

Presuppositions,  of  causal  state- 
ments, 41ff,  217 

Price,  related  to  punishment, 

Priestley,  J.,  117,  120 

Probability,  218;  epistemologi- 
cal,   operational,   ontological, 

.  and  theoretical,  203-204;  in 
physics,  60ff,  90ff,  203fT;  sub- 
jective  and  objective,  91 

Process:  biological,  161;  of 
creation,  223;  of  production, 
236;  physical,  24,  231;  psy- 
chical, 25 

Psi  function,  60,  66,  198 

Psychoanalysis  and  psychiatry, 
22,  38,  51-52,  121,  126fif,  137, 
155,  220 

Punishment:  deterrent  theory 
of,  98fif,  190,  193-94;  eco- 
nomic theory  of,  193-94; 
Erewhon  program  of,  116; 
retributive  theory  of,  115-16, 
190-91;  social  utility  of, 
149ff,  190-91,  194 

Purposive  action,  161,  181,  229 

Quantum  theory,  see  Mechan- 
ics, quantum 
Quine,  W.  V.,  202,  207 

Randomness,  84ff,  183ff,  195, 
198,  223,  240-41 

Rationalism,  in  philosophy  of 
science,  79 

Rationalization,  210 

Realism,  in  philosophy  of  sci- 
ence, 65-66,  79 

Reality:  change  in  meaning  of, 
61;  ambiguity  of,  66 

Reflex  action,  bearing  on  moral 
responsibility,   127 

Reid,  T.,  163,  228 

Relations:  dyadic  and  monadic, 
161;  triadic,  164;  in  defini- 
tion of  "cause,"  164-65 

Relativity,  theory  of,  78fr,  206ff 

Responsibility :  criteria  of, 
1191T,  127ff,  188ff,  219ff; 
dilemma  of,  158;  etiological, 
168;  legal  and  criminal,  95ff, 
132ff.  168-69,  194ff,  220; 
meanings  of,  141,  219-20, 
225-26;  mental  elements  in^ 
99ff;  moral,  25,  97ff,  117ff, 
145ff,  149ff,  157ff,  168-69,- 
176ff,  187ff,  193ff,  200,  210- 
11,  212ff,  219ff,  224ff,  243; 
reflective      and      unreflective 

252    /     Determinism  and  Freedom 

conceptions  of,  \22S,  146; 
related  to  compulsion,  129- 
30;  related  to  premeditation, 
127-28;  subjective  and  objec- 
tive, 219-20 

Roberts,  K.  V.,  90 

Ross,  W.  D.,  23,  207 

Russell,  B.,  22,  73,  140,  172tt 

Russell,  E.  S.,  161n 

Ryle,  G.,  167 

Schlick,  M.,  118ff,  140-41, 
172n,  179 

Schopenhauer,  A.,  117,  120 

Schrodinger,  E.,  57,  60,  66fif, 

Schutz,  A.,  219 

Sciama,  D.  W.,  90,  222 

Self:  as  moral  agent,  227ff,  242; 
problem  of,  188;  metaphysi- 
cal theory  of,  158-59,  228 

Sellars,  W.,  172n 

Sentimentalism,  and  determin- 
ism,  180ff 

Sequence,  regular  and  causal, 
163ff,  216 

Sidgwick,  H.,  20 

Simultaneity,  208;  of  cause  and 
effect,  38 

Sin,  related  to  law,  102-4 

Skinner,  B.  F.,  viii 

Spinoza,  B.,  138 

Statistical  mechanics,  see  Me- 
chanics, quantum;  Probabil- 
ity, in  physics 

Stephen,  J.  F.,  102 

Stevenson,  C.  L.,   118 

Strawson,  P.  F.,  217 

Sumner,  W.  G.,  221 

Superego,  134 

Tautology,  202,  205,  216 
Taylor,  R.,  224 

Thucydides,  54  "* 

Time,  204fif 

Trotsky,  L.,  53 

Truth:  and  coimnon  sense,  231; 
as  timeless,  182;  logical,  157, 
166,  180;  of  principle  of  uni- 
versal causality,  163ff;  of  sci- 
entific theories,  79-80 

Uncertainty,  principal  of,  60, 
79-80,  184ff,  209 

Unconscious,  role  in  motiva- 
tion of,  52,  126ff 

Utilitarianism,  as  ground  of 
punishment,  149fif,  189ff;  in 
legal  theory,  105flf 

Vagueness,    33flf,    75,    99;    of 

moral     concepts,      188;     of 

philosophical  concepts,  58;  of 

physical  concepts,  23 
Value:  as  secured  by  law,  115; 

of  a  variable,  48,  185,  239ff; 

of  excusing  conditions,  99ff; 

of  psi  function,  197 
Variables,   48,  70,   91,    184-85, 

205ff,  239fif 
Verification:  of  counterf actuals, 

217;  of  quantum  theory,  91; 

of  standards,  34;  of  theories, 

Voltaire,  120 
Voluntary  action,  see  Freedom 

of  will;  Responsibility,  moral; 

Responsibility,  legal;  Choice 

Weber,  M.,  219 
Weiss,  P.,  231 
Whitehead,  A.  N.,  46,  179 
Williams,  D.,  207-8 
Williams,  G.,  102n,   106 
Wilson,  H.  V.  R.,  237 

40*^  10 


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